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Full text of "Carmina gadelica : hymns and incantations with illustrative notes on words, rites, and customs, dying and obsolete"



lliiiii 



SiaA>. (o^. 



CARMINA GADELICA 

ORTHA NAN GAIDHEAL 





A^J 



Carmina Gadelica 

Hymns and Incantations 

With Illustrative Notes on Words, Rites, and Customs, 
Dying and Obsolete : Orally Collected in the Highlands 
and Islands of Scotland and Translated into English 

By Alexander Carmichael 



Volume I 




Oliver and Boyd 

Edinburgh : Tweeddale Court 
London: 33 Paternoster Row, E.C.4 

1928 



First Edition 1900 

Second Edition 1928 






ORTHA NAN GAIDHEAL 

URNAN AGUS UBAGAN 

LE SOLUS AIR FACLA GNATHA AGUS 

CLEACHDANA A CHAIDH AIR CHUL 

CNUASAICHTE BHO BHIALACHAS 

FEADH GAIDHEALTACHD NA H-ALBA 

AGUS TIONNDAICHTE 

BHO GHAIDHLIG GU BEURLA, LE 

ALASTAIR MACGILLEMHICHEIL 



PREFACE TO SECOND EDITION 

This work, of which only a limited edition was published in 1900, 
has long been difficult to get, and at a prohibitive price. 

The Collector of the Poems and many of those whom he has 
mentioned in the Introduction have passed to the other side. 

Important changes for the better have taken place in Highland 
agriculture and land tenure, and enlightened views on the value 
and use of Gaelic are now more prevalent. But much literature 
has been lost which can never be recalled or replaced, and the 
number of Gaelic speakers has greatly decreased. 

The present issue contains all the matter in the original 
volumes. Some misprints have been corrected, and a few 
unimportant alterations have been made. Deviations from 
ordinary Gaelic speDing and grammar reflect the language of 
the reciters. 

It is intended to publish further volumes from Dr Carmichael's 
Collections. 

E. C. C. W. 

1928. 



^3 



CONTENTS 



ACHAINE 

1. Rann ronih Uriiuigh 

Ta mi lubadh mo ghlun 

2. Dia liom a laighe 

Dia liom a laighe 

3. Ora nam Buadh 

lonnlairae do bhasa 

4. Achanaidh choitcheann 

Dhe, eisd ri m' urnuigh 

5. Dhe bi maille ruinn 

Dhe bi maille ruinn 

6. los, a Mhic Muire 

los, a Mhic Muire 

7. Athair Naomha na Gloir 

Buidheachas duit, Athair Naomha 

8. Uirnigh 

A Dhia, ann mo ghniamh 

9. Duan na Muthairn 

A Righ na gile 

10. Beannaich, a Thriath 

Beannaich, a Thriath nam flath 
fial 

11. Solus-iuil na Siorruidheachd 

Dhe, thug mis a fois na h-oidhch 

12. Achanaidh Grais 

Ta mi lubadh mo ghlun 



PAGE 

3 



INVOCATIONS 

Rune before Prayer 
I am bending my knee 

God with me lying down 
God with me lying down 

The Invocation of the Graces 
I bathe thy palms 

A general Supplication 
God, listen to my prayer 

God be with us 
God be with us 

Jesu, Thou Son of Mary 
Jesu, Thou Son of Mary 

Holy Father of Glory 

Thanks be to Thee, Holy Father 

A Prayer 

O God, in my deeds 

Rune of the ' Muthairn ' 

Thou King of the moon 

Bless, O Chief 

Bless, O Chief of generous 
chiefs 

The guiding light of Eternity 33 

God, who broughtst me 

A Prayer for Grace 35 

1 am bending my knee 



13 



15 



19 



23 



27 



29 



31 



CONTENTS 



13. Achanaidh Comhnadh 

Bho is tu is Buachaill 

14. Eosai bu choir a mholadh 

Bu cho fus a dh' losa 

15. Carraig nan Al 

Air Carraig nan al 

16. Sorchar nan Reul 

Feuch Sorchar nan reul 

17. Crois nan Naonih 

Crois nan naomh 

18. An t-Aingheal Diona 

Ainghil Dhe a fhuair mo 
churara 

19. Ruin 

Labhram gach la a reir do 
cheartais 

20. Ora Ceartais 

lonnlaidh raise ra' aodann 

21. Ora Ceartais 

Dhe, tha mi liuthaU m' aodainn 

22. OraBuaidh 

lonnlaidh mi m' aodann 

23. An Liuthail 

Ta mi liuthail m' aodainn 

24. Ora Boisilidh 

Boisileag air th' aois 

25. Dhe stiuir mi 

Dhe stiuir mi le d' ghliocas 

26. Beannachadh Cadail 

Biodh do lamh dheas, a Dhe 

27. Thigeam an Diugh 

Thigeam an diugh 'an t-Athair 



PAGE 

Prayer for Protection 37 

As Thou art the Shepherd 

Jesu who ought to be praised 39 

It were as easy for Jesu 
The Rock of Rocks 43 

On the Rock of rocks 

The Lightener of the Stars 45 
Behold the Lightener of the stars 

The Cross of the Saints 47 

The cross of the saints 

The Guardian Angel 49 

Thou angel of God who hast 
charge 

Desires 51 

May I speak each day accord- 
ing to Thy justice 

Invocation for Justice 53 

I will wash my face 

Invocation for Justice 55 

God, I am bathing my face 

Prayer for Victory 57 

I bathe my face 

The Lustration 59 

I am bathing my face 

Bathing Prayer 61 

A palmful for thine age 
God guide me 65 

God guide me with Thy wisdom 

Sleep Blessing 67 

Be Thy right hand, O God 

Come I this Day 69 

Come I this day to the Father 



CONTENTS 



AIR. 

28. 



29. 



An Achanaidh Anama 
O los, a nochd 

Urnuigh Chadail 
Ta mi cur m' anama 's mo 



The Soul Plaint 

Jesu ! to-night 

Sleeping Prayer 

1 am placing my soul and my 



Laighim sios an nochd 

38. A Choich Anama 

Dhe tabhair aithne 

39. Coich-Anama 

Ainghil Dhe, a fhuair mo 
churam 

40. Laighim am Leabaidh 

Laighim am leabaidh 

41. Urnuigh Maduinn 

Taing dhut losda Criosda 

42. An Tionnsgann 

Taing dhuit, a Dhe 



FAOB 

71 
73 



30. 


chorp 

Tiubhradh nan Tri 
Spioraid tiubhair dhomh do 
phailteas 


body 

The Gifts of the Three 

Spirit, give me of Thine 
abundance 


75 


31. 


Urnuigh Chadail 
los gun lochd 


Sleep Prayer 

O Jesu without sin 


77 


32. 


Beannachd Taimh 
An ainm an Tighearn losa 


Resting Blessing 

In name of the Lord Jesus 


79 


33. 


Coisrig Cadail 
Luighim sios an nochd 


Sleep Consecration 
I lie down to-night 


81 


34. 


Beannachadh Leapa 

Laighim sios an nochd mar is 
coir 


Bed Blessing 

I am lying down to-night as 
beseems 


83 


35. 


An Urnuigh Chadail 

Tha mis a nis a dol dh' an chadal 


The Sleep Prayer 

I am now going into the sleep 


85 


36. 


Coisrig Cadail 
Ta mise laighe nochd 


Sleep Consecration 

I am lying down to-night 


87 


37. 


Beannachadh Leapa 


Bed Blessing 


89 



I am lying down to-night 

The Soul Shrine 91 

God, give charge 

Soul-Shrine 93 

Thou angel of God who hast 
charge 

I lie in my Bed 95 

I lie in ray bed 

Morning Prayer 97 

Thanks be to Thee, Jesus Christ 

The Dedication 99 

Thanks to Thee, God 



xii CONTENTS 

AIR. 

43. Achanaidh Taimh 

Dhe, teasruig an tigh 

44. Teisreadh Taighe 

Dhe,beannakh an ce 's na bheilann 

45. Beannachadh Taiglie 

Dhe, beannaich an taigh 

46. Co dha dhiolas mi Cios 

Co dha dhiolas mi cios 

47. Earna Mhoire 

Failt, a Mlioire ! failt, a Mhoire ! 

48. Failte a Mhoire 

Failte dhuit, a Mhoire Mhathair ! 

49. An Cath nach tainig 

losa Mhic Mhoire 

50. Am Beannachadh Baistidh 

Thi, tha comhnadh nan ard 

51. An Treoraich Anama 

An t-anam-s' air do laimh 

52. Am Beannachadh Bais 

Dhia, na diobair a bhean 

53. Fois Anama 

O "s tus a Chriosd a cheannaich 

54. A Ghealach ur 

An ainm Spiorad Naomh nan 
gras 



A resting Prayer 

God shield the house 



101 

103 



House Protecting 
God, bless the world 

Blessing of House 105 

God bless the house 

To whom shall I offer 107 

To whom shall I offer oblation 

Hail, Mary 109 

Hail, Mary ! hail, Mary ! 

Hail to Thee, Mary 111 

Hail to thee, Mary, Mother ! 

The Battle to come 113 

Jesus, Thou Son of Mary 

The Baptism Blessing 115 

Thou Being who inhabitest 

The Soul Leading 117 

Be this soul on Thine arm 

The Death Blessing 119 

God, omit not this woman 

Soul Peace 121 

Since Thou Christ it was 

The new Moon 123 

In name of the Holy Spirit of 
grace 



AIMSIRE 

55. Nuall Nollaig 

Ho Ri, ho Ri 

56. Duan Nollaig 

Hoire ! hoire ! beannaicht e ! 



SEASONS 

Christmas Hail 127 

Hail to the King, hail to the King 

Christmas Carol 133 

HailKing! haUKing! blessed is He! 



CONTENTS 



57. Duan Nollaig 

Hoire ! hoire ! beannaicht e ! 

58. Heire Bannag 

Heire Bannag, hoire Bannag 

59. Heire Bannag, hoire Bannag 

Heire Bannag, hoire Bannag 

60. Bannag nam Buadh 

Is mise Bannag, is mise Bochd 

61. An Oigh agus an Leanabh 

Chunnacas an Oigh a teachd 

62. Rugadh Buachaille 

Oidhche sin a dhealraich an reiilt 

63. Calluinn a Bhuilg 

Calluinn a bhuilg 

64. Cairioll Callaig 

Nis tha mis air tighinn dh' ur 
duthaic'h 

65. Duan Callaig 

Nist o thaine sinn dh' an 
duthaich 

66. Oidhche Challaig 

Tliaine sinne chon an doriiis 

67. Beannachadh Bliadhna Uir 

Dhe, beannaich dhomh an la ur 

68. Criosda Cleireach os ar cionn 

Criosda Cleireach os ar cionn 

69. LaChaluim-Chille 

Daorn Chalum-chille chaoirah 

70. Sloinntireachd Bhride 

Sloinneadh na Ban-naomh 

71. Bride Ban-Chobhair 

Thainig thugam cobhair 



PAGE 

Christinas Chant 135 

Hail King I hail King ! 

Hey the Gift 139 

Hey the Gift, ho the Gift 

Hey the Gift, ho the Gift 141 
Hey the Gift, ho the Gift 

The Gift of Power 143 

I am the Gift, I am the Poor 

The Virgin and Child 145 

Behold the Virgin approaching 

The Shepherd of the Flock 147 
That night the star shone 



Hogmanay of the Sack 

Hogmanay of the sack 

Hogmanay Carol 

I am now come to your 
country 



149 
151 

153 



The Song of Hogmanay 

Now since we came to the 
country 

Hogmanay 157 

We are come to the door 

Blessing of the New Year 159 
God, bless to me the new day 

Christ the Priest above us 161 
Christ the Priest above us 

The Day of St Columba 163 

Thursday of Columba benign 

Genealogy of Bride 164 

The genealogy of the holy maiden 

Bride the Aid- Woman 177 

There came to me assistance 



CONTENTS 



72. Manus mo Ruin 

A Mhanuis mo ruin 

73. Am Beannachadh Bealltain 

Beannaich, a Thrianailt 

74. Am Beannachd Bealltain 

A Mhoire, a mhathair nan naomh 

75. Laoidh an Trial! 

Mhicheil mhil nan steud geala 

76. La Feill Moire 

La feiU Moire cubhr 

77. Micheal nam Buadh 

Mhicheil nam buadh 

78. An Beannachadh Struain 

Gach min tha fo m' chleibh 

79. Duan an Domhnuich 

Duan an Domhnuich 

80. Duan an Domhnaich 

An Domhnach naomha do Dhe 

81. Duan na Dilinn 

Di-luain thig 



PAGE 

Magnus of my Love 179 

O Magnus of my love 

The Beltane Blessing 183 

Bless, O Threefold 

The Beltane Blessing 187 

Mary, thou mother of saints 

Hymn of the Procession 190 

Valiant Michael of the white steeds 

The Feast Day of Mary 195 

On the feast day of Mary the fragrant 

Michael, the Victorious 198 

Thou Michael the victorious 

The Blessing of the ' Strilan ' 213 
Each meal beneath my roof 

Poem of the Lord's Day 217 

The Poem of the Lord's Day 

Hymn of the Sunday 223 

On the Holy Sunday of thy God 

Poem of the Flood 225 

On Monday ^vill come 



OIBRE 



LABOUR 



82. Beannachadh Beothachaidh Blessing of the Kindling 



Togaidh mi mo theine an 
diugh 

83. Togail an Teine 

Togaidh mis an tula 

84. Smaladh an Teine 

An Tri numh 



I will kindle my fire this 
morning 

Kindling the Fire 

I will raise the hearth-fire 

Smooring the Fire 
The sacred Three 



231 



233 



235 



CONTENTS 



85. Smaladh an Teine 

Cairidh mi an tula 

86. Beannachd Smalaidh 

Tha mi smaladh an teine 

87. Beannachadh Smalaidh 

Smalaidii mis an tula 

88. An Coisrigeadh Sioil 

Theid mi mach a chur an t-sioil 

89. Beannachadh Buanu 

Dhe beannaich fein mo bhuain 

90. Beannachadh Buana 

Di-mairt feille ri eirigh greine 

91. Beannachadh Fuiriridh 

A lasair leith, chaol, chrom 

92. Beannachadh Brathain 

Oidhch Inid 

93. Cronan Bleoghain 

Thig, a Bhreannain, o"n a chuan 

94. Cronan Bleoghain 

Sian a chuir Moire nam buadh 

95. Beannachadh Bleoghain 

Bheir Calum-cille dhi-se piseach 

96. Ho Hoiligean 

Eudail thu 

97. Ho ni' Aghan ! 

Oidhche sin bha 'm Buachaill 

98. Thoir am Bainne 

Thoir am bainne, bho dhonn 

99. Cronan Bleoghan 

Thig, a Mhuire, 's bhgh a bho 



Smooring the Fire 237 

I will build the hearth 

Blessing of the Smooring 239 

I am smooring the fire 

Smooring Blessing 241 

I will sraoor the hearth 

Consecration of the Seed 243 
I will go out to sow the seed 

Reaping Blessing 247 

God, bless Thou Thyself my reaping 

Reaping Blessing 249 

On Tuesday of the feast 
Blessing of the Parching 251 

Thou flame grey, slender, curved 

The Quern Blessing 252 

On Ash Eve 

Milking Croon 259 

Come, Brendan, from the ocean 

Milking Croon 261 

The charm placed of Mary of Ught 

Milking Blessing 263 

Columba will give to her progeny 

Ho Hoiligean 265 

My treasure thou 

Ho, my Heifer ! 267 

The night the Herdsman 

Give thy Milk 269 

Give thy milk, brown cow 

Milking Song 271 

Come, Mary, and milk my cow 



CONTENTS 



AIR. 

100. BeannachadhBuachailleachd 

Comraig Dhe is Dhomhnuich 

101. Beannachadh Buachailleachd 

Cuiridh mi an ni seo romham 

102. BeannachadhBuachailleachd 

Siubhal beinne, siubhal baile 

103. Comraig nam Ba 

Blaragan reidh, fada, farsiiinn 

104. Gleidheadh Treuid 

Gun gleidheadh Moire min an 
ciob 

105. Cronan Cuallaich 

An crodh an diugh a dol 
imirig 

106. Beannachadh Guir 

Eiridh mi moch maduinn Luan 

107. Comharrachadh nan Uan 

Bidh mo Egian ur, geur, glan 

108. Am Beannachd Lombaidh 

Falbh lorn 's thig molach 

109. Duan Deilbh 

Daorn nam buadh 

110. Beannachd Beairte 

Fuidheagan no corr do shnath 

111. Suidheachadh na h-Iomairt 

An dubh mu'n gheal 

112. Beannachadh Garmain 

Beannaich, a Thriath nam flath 
fial 

113. Coisrigeadh an Aodaich 

Is math a ghabhas mi mo rann 

114. Beannachadh Seilg 

Bho m' leasraidh ghineadh 
thu 



Herding Blessing 273 

The keeping of God and the Lord 

Herding Blessing 275 

I Will place this flock before me 

Herding Blessing 277 

Travelling moorland 

Protection of the Cattle 279 

Pastures smooth, long 

Guarding the Flocks 281 

May Mary the mild keep the 
sheep 

A Herding Croon 283 

The cattle are to-day going 
a-flitting 

Hatching Blessing 285 

I will rise early on the morning 

Marking the Lambs 289 

My knife will be new, keen, clean 

The Clipping Blessing 293 

Go shorn and come woolly 

The Chant of the Warping 295 
Thursday of beneficence 

Loom Blessing 301 

Thrums nor odds of thread 

Setting the lomairt 303 

The black by the white 

Loom Blessing 305 

Bless, O Chief of generous 

chiefs 

Consecration of the Cloth 306 
WeU can I say my rune 

Hunting Blessing 311 

From my loins begotten wert 
thou 



CONTENTS 



115. 
116. 
117. 
118. 
119. 

120. 
121. 



Coisrigeadh na Seilg 
An ainra na Trianailt 

Ora Turais 

Bith a bhi na m' bhial 

Beannachd lasgaich 
La na soillse thainig oirnn 

Beannachadh Cuain 

Thi tha chomhnadh nan ard 

Beannachadh Cuain 
Dhe, Athair uile-chumhachd- 
aich 

Riaghlair nan Sian 

Clann Israil 



Urnuigh Mliara 
Beannaicht an long 



XVll 

PAGE 

Consecrating the Chase 315 

In name of the Holy Three-fold 

Prayer for Travelling 317 

Life be in ray speech 

Fishing Blessing 319 

The day of light has come upon us 

The Ocean Blessing 322 

O Thou who pervadest the heights 

Ocean Blessing 329 

God the Father all-power- 
ful 

Ruler of the Elements 331 

The Children of Israel 

Sea Prayer 333 

Blest be the boat 




INTRODUCTION 



This work consists of old lore collected during- the l;ist forty-four years. 
It forms a small part of a large mass of oral literature written down 
from the recital of men and women throughout the Highlands and 
Islands of Scotland, from Arran to Caithness, from Perth to St Kilda. 
The greater portion of the collection has been made in the Western 
Isles, variously called ' Eileana Bride,' Hebrid Isles, Outer Hebrides, 
Outer Isles, ' Eilean Fada,' ' Innis Fada,' Long Island, and anciently 
' Iniscead,' ' Innis Cat,' Isle of tiie Cat, Isle o! the Catey. Probably 
the Catey were the people who gave the name ' Cataibh,' Cat Country, 
to Sutherland, and ' Caitnis,' Cat Ness, to Caithness. 

The Long Island is composed of a series of islands, separately 
known as Barra, South Uist, Benbecula, North Uist, and Harris and 
Lewis. This chain is one hundred and nineteen miles in length, 
varying from a few yards to twenty-five miles in width. Viewed 
from the summit of its highest link, the Long Island chain resembles 
a huge artificial kite stretched along the green Atlantic Ocean, 
Lewis forming the body, the disjointed tail trending away in the 
blue haze and terminating in Bearnarey of Barra. 

This long series of islands is evidently the backbone of a large 
island, perhaps of a great continent, that extended westward beyond 
the Isle of the Nuns, beyond the Isle of the Monks, beyond tiie Isle 
of St Flann, beyond the Isle of St Kilda, beyond the Isle of Rockal, 
probably beyond the storied Isle of Rocabarraidh, and possibly beyond 
the historic Isle of Atlantis. 

This backbone is now disarticulated like the vertebras of some 
huge fossil fish, each section having a life of its own. These joints 
I are separated by rills and channels varying from a few feet to eight 
miles in width. 

The Atlantic rushes through these straits and narrows into the 
i Minch, and the Minch rushes through the straits and narrows into 
j the Atlantic, fom- times every twenty-four hours. The constant 
rushing to and fro of these mighty waters is very striking. 



XX INTRODUCTION 

Many of the countless islands comprising the Outer Hebrides are 
indented with arms of the sea studded with rocks and islands dividing 
and ramifying into endless mazes, giving in some cases a coast-line 
of over four hundred miles within their one-mile entrance. No mind 
could conceive, no imagination could realise, the disorderly distribu- 
tion of land and water that is to be seen in those Outer Islands, 
where mountain and moor, sand and peat, rock and morass, reef and 
shoal, fresh-water lake and salt-water loch, in wildest confusion strive 
for mastery. Viewing this bewildering scene from the summit of 
Ruaival in Benbecula, Professor Blackie exclaimed : — 

' O God-forsaken, God-detested land ! 

Of bogs and blasts, of moors and mists and rain ; 
Where ducks with men contest the doubtful strand, 
And shirts when washed are straightway soiled again ! ' ' 

The formation of the Long Island is Laurentian gneiss, with some 
outcrops of Cambrian at Aoi, Lewis, and four examples of trap at 
Lochmaddy, Uist. The rocks everywhere show ice action, being 
smoothed and polished, grooved and striated from hill to sea — the 
grooves and strias lying east and west or thereby. 

There are no trees in the Long Island except some at Rodail, 
Harris, and a few at Stornoway, Lewis. The wind and spray of the 
Atlantic are inimical to trees under present climatic conditions. 
There are evidences, however, that there were trees in historic and 
prehistoric times. 

It is said that a prince of Lewis forsook a Norse princess and 
married a native girl. The princess vowed by Odin, Thor, and Frea, 
and by all the other gods and goddesses of her fatliers, to avenge the 
insult, and she sent her witch to burn the woods of Lewis. The 
tradition of the burning of these woods is countenanced by the 
presence of charred trees in peat-moss in many places. It is on 
record that a Norse prince married a native Barra girl, but whether 
or not this was the prince of Lewis is uncertain. 

1 On Sunday, the 21st July 1875, Professor Blackie, Mr William Jolly, and 
I ascended the hill of Ruaival, in Benbecula. From the summit of this hill, 
409 feet high, we liad an extensive view of our extraordinary surroundings, 
striking to the eye and instructive to the mind. On returning home to Creagorry, 
where we then lived. Professor Blackie wrote tlie lines composed on Ruaival on 
the flyleaf of Burt's Letters, which he gave to me. Tlie day that Professor 
Blackie and Mr JoUy were to have left our house some mishap befeU their linens, 
and these had to be rewashed. Mr Jolly alleged that I had bribed tlie servant 
in charge of the linens to bring about the accident in order to jirolong the stay 
of our well-beloved guests ! 



INTRODUCTION xxi 

There are many evidences that the sea has gained upon the land 
in the Long Island. In the shore and in the sea, peat-moss, tree- 
roots, sessile reeds, stone dykes, dwellings and temples may be seen, 
while pieces of moss, trees and masonry have been brought up from 
time to time by hooks and anchors in from ten to twenty fathoms 
of water. I do not know anything more touching yet more fascinating 
than these submerged memorials of bygone times and of bygone men. 

Immense stretches of sandy plains run along the Atlantic border 
of the Outer Hebrides. These long reaches of sessile sand are 
locally called machairs — plains. They are singularly bleak, barren, 
and shelterless in winter, giving rise to the saying : — 

' Is luath fear na drocli rahnatha Fast goes the man of the thriftless wife 
Air a mhachair Uibhistich.' Upon the machair of Uist. 

The inference is that the man is ill clad. In summer, however, 
these ' macjiairs ' are green and grassy, comforting to the foot, 
pleasing to the eye, and delieiously fragrant, being covered with 
strongly aromatic plants and flowers. 

But the charm of these islands lies in their people — goodly to 
see, brave to endure, and pleasing to know. 

The population of the Long Island is about forty-four thousand. 
Of these, about forly-four families occupy two-thirds of the whole 
land, the crofters, cottars, and the poor who exist upon the poor, 
being confined to the remaining third. These are crowded upon one 
another like sheep in a pen : — 

' Na biasta mor ag ithcadh nani The big beasts eating tlie little 

biasta beag, beasts, 

Na;biasta beag a deananih mar The little beasts doing as best 

dh'fhaodas iad.' they may. 

There are no intermediate farms, no gradation holdings, to which 
the industrious crofter might aspire, and become a benefit to himself, 
an example to his neighbour, and a lever to his country. 

The people of the Outer Isles, like the people of the Highlands 
and Islands generally, are simple and law-abiding, common crime 
being rare and serious crime unknown among them. They are good 
to the poor, kind to the stranger, and courteous to all. During all 
the years that I lived and travelled among them, night and day, 
I never met with incivilitj', never with rudeness, never with vulgarity, 
never with aught but courtesy. I never entered a house without 
the inmates fiff'ering nie food or apologising for their want of it. I 
never was asked for charity in the West, a striking contrast to my 

b 



xxii INTRODUCTION 

experience in England, where I was frequently asked for food, for 
drink, for money, and that by persons whose incomes would have 
been wealth to the poor men and women of the West. After long 
experience of his tenants, the late Mr John Gordon said : — ' The 
Uist people are born gentlemen — Nature's noblemen.' 

Gaelic oral literature was ^videly diffused, greatly abundant, and 
excellent in quality — in tlie opinion of scholars, unsurpassed by 
anything similar in the ancient classics of Greece or Rome. 

Many causes contributed towards these attainments — the crofting 
system, the social customs, and the evening ' ceilidh.' In a crofting 
community the people work in unison in the field during the day, 
and discuss together in the house at night. This meeting is called 
' ceilidh ' — a word that throbs the heart of the Highlander wherever 
he be. The 'ceilidh' is a literary entertainment where stories and 
tales, poems and ballads, are rehearsed and recited, and songs are 
sung, conundrums are put, proverbs are quoted, and many other 
literary matters are related and discussed. This institution is 
admirably adapted to cultivate the heads and to warm the hearts of 
an intelligent, generous people. Let me briefly describe the 'ceilidh ' 
as I have seen it. 

In a crofting townland there are several story-tellers who recite 
the oral literature of their predecessors. The story-tellers of the 
Higlilands are as varied in their subjects as are literary men and 
women elsewhere. One is a historian narrating events simply and 
concisely ; another is a historian with a bias, colouring his narrative 
according to his leanings. One is an inventor, building fiction upon 
fact, mingling his materials, and investing the whole with the charm 
of novelty and the halo of romance. Another is a reciter of heroic 
poems and ballads, bringing the different characters before the mind 
as clearly as the sculptor brings the figure before the eye. One gives 
the songs of the chief poets, with interesting accounts of their authors, 
while another, generally a woman, sings, to weird airs, beautiful old 
songs, some of them Arthurian. There are various other narrators, 
singers, and speakers, but I have never heard aught that should not 
be said nor sung. 

The romance school has the largest following, and I go there, 
joining others on the way. The house of the story-teller is already 
full, and it is difficult to get inside and away from the cold wind and 
soft sleet without. But with that politeness native to the people, the 
stranger is pressed to come forward and occupy the seat vacated for 
him beside tlie liouseman. The house is roomy and clean, if homely. 



INTRODUCTION xxiii 

with its brijrlit peat fire in the middle of the floor. There are many 
present — men and women, boys and girls. All the women are seated, 
and most of the men. Girls are crouched between the knees of 
fathers or brothers or friends, while boys are perched wherever — 
boy-like — they can climb. 

The houseman is twisting twigs of heather into ropes to hold down 
thatch, a neighbour crofter is twining quicken roots into cords to tie 
cows, while another is plaiting bent grass into baskets to hold meal. 

' Ith aran, sniamh muran, Eat bread and twist bent, 

Is bi thu am bliadhn mar bha tliu'n And tliou this year shalt be as thou 

uraidh.' wert last. 

The housewife is spinning, a daughter is carding, another daughter 
is teazing, while a third daughter, supposed to be working, is away in 
the background conversing in low whispers with the son of a neigh- 
bouring crofter. Neighbour wives and neighbour daughters are 
knitting, sewing, or embroidering. The conversation is general : the 
local news, the weather, the price of cattle, these leading up to higher 
themes — the clearing of the glens (a sore subject), the war, the 
parliament, the effects of the sun upon the earth and the moon upon 
the tides. The speaker is eagerly listened to, and is urged to tell 
more. But he pleads that he came to hear and not to speak, 
saying :— 

' A chiad sgial air fear an taighe. The first story from the host, 

Sgial gu la air an aoidh. ' Story till day from the guest. 

The stranger asks the houseman to tell a story, and after a pause 
the man complies. The tale is full of incident, action, and pathos. 
It is told simply yet graphically, and at times dramatically — compel- 
Hng the undivided attention of the listener. At the pathetic scenes 
and distressful events the bosoms of the women may be seen to heave 
and their silent tears to fall. Truth overcomes craft, skill conquers 
strength, and bravery is rewarded. Occasionally a momentary 
excitement occurs when heat and sleep overpower a boy and he 
tumbles down among the people below, to be trounced out and sent 
home. When the story is ended it is discussed and commented upon, 
and the difl^erent characters praised or blamed according to their 
merits and the views of the critics. 

If not late, proverbs, riddles, conundrums, and songs follow. Some 
of the tales, however, are long, occupying a night or even several 
nights in recital. ' Sgeul Coise Cein,' the story of the foot of Cian, 
for example, was in twenty-fom* parts, each part occupying a night 



xxiv INTRODUCTION 

in telling. The story is mentioned by Macnicol in his Remarks on 
Johnson's Tour. 

The hut of Hector Macisaac, Ceannlangavat, South Uist, stood in 
a peat-moss. The walls were of' riasg,' turf, and the thatch of ' cuilc,' 
reeds, to the grief of the occupants, who looked upon the reed as 
banned, because it was used on Calvary to convej' the sponge with 
the vinegar. The hut was about fifteen feet long, ten feet broad, and 
five feet high. There was nothing in it that the vilest thief in the 
lowest slum would condescend to steal. It were strange if the 
inmates of this turf hut iu the peat-morass had been other than ailing. 
Hector Macisaac and his wife were the only occupants, their daughter 
being at service trying to prolong existence in her parents. Both 
had been highly endowed physically, and were still endowed mentally, 
though now advanced in years. The wife knew many secular runes, 
sacred hymns, and fairy songs; while the husband had numerous 
heroic tales, poems, and ballads. 

I had visited these people before, and in September 1871 Iain 
F. Campbell of Islay and I went to see them. Hector Macisaac, the 
unlettered cottar who knew no language but his own, who came into 
contact with no one but those of his own class, his neighbours of the 
peat-bog, and who had never been out of his native island, was as 
polite and well-mannered and courteous as Iain Campbell, the learned 
barrister, the world-wide traveller, and the honoured guest of every 
court in Europe. Both were at ease and at home with one another, 
there being neither servility on the one side nor condescension on 
the other. 

The stories and poems which Hector Macisaac went over during 
our visits to him would have filled several volumes. Mr Campbell 
now and then put a leading question which brought out the story- 
teller's marvellous memory and extensive knowledge of folklore. 

It was similar with blind old Hector Macleod, cottar, Lianacuithe, 
South Uist, and with old Roderick Macneill, cottar, Miunghlaidh, 
Barra. Each of those men repeated stories and poems, tales and 
ballads, that would have filled many books. Yet neither of them 
told more than a small part of what he knew. None of the three 
men knew any letters, nor any language but Gaelic, nor had ever 
been out of his native island. All expressed regret in well-chosen 
words that they had not a better place in which to receive their 
visitors, and all thanked them in polite terms for coming to see them 
and for taking an interest in their decried and derided old lore. 
And all were courteous as the courtier. 



INTRODUCTION xxv 

During his visit to us, Mr Campbell expressed to my wife and to 
myself his admiration of these and other men with whom we had 
come in contact. He said that in no other race had he observed so 
many noble traits and hijrh qualities as in the unlettered, untravelled, 
unspoiled Higlilander. 

In 1860, 1861, and 1862, I took down much folk-lore from Kenneth 
Morrison, cottar, Trithion, Skye. Kenneth Morrison had been a 
mason, but was now old, blind, and poor. Though wholly unlettered, 
he was highly intelligent. He mentioned the names of many old 
men in the extensive but now desolate parish of Minngnis, who had 
been famous story-tellers in his boyhood — men who had been born in 
the first decade of the eighteenth century. Several of these, he said, 
could recite stories and poems during many nights in succession — 
some of the tales requiring several nights to relate. He repeated 
fragments of many of these. Some of them were pieces of poems 
and stories published by Macpherson, Smith, the Stewarts, the 
MacCalhinis, the Campbells, and others. 

Kenneth Morrison told me that the old men, from whom he heard 
the poems and stories, said that they had heard them from old men 
in their boyhood. That would carry these old men back to the first 
half of the seventeenth century. Certainly they could not have 
learnt their stories or poems from books, for neither stories nor 
poems wei-e printed in their time, and even had they been, those 
men could not have read them. 

Gaelic oral literature has been disappearing during the last three 
centuries. It is now becoming meagre in (piantity, inferior in quality, 
and greatly isolated. 

Several causes have contributed towards this decadence — 
principally the Reformation, the Risings, the evictions, the Disrup- 
tion, the schools, and the spirit of the age. Converts in religion, in 
politics, or in aught else, are apt to be intemperate in speech and 
rash in action. The Reformation movement ctmdemned the beliefs 
and cults tolerated and assimilated by the Celtic Church and the 
Latin Church. Nor did sculpture and architecture escape their 
intemperate zeal. The risings harried and harassed the people, 
while the evictions impoverished, dispirited, and scattered them over 
the world. Ignorant school-teaching and clerical narrowness have 
been painfully detrimental to the expressive language, wholesome 
literature, manly sports, and interesting amusements of the Highland 
people. Innumerable examples occur. 

A young lady said: — 'When we came to Islav I was sent to the 

' b 2 



xxvi INTRODUCTION 

parish school to obtain a proper groundiiin- in arithmetic. I was 
charmed with the schoolgirls and their Gaelic songs. But the 
schoolmaster — an alien like myself — denounced Gaelic speech and 
Gaelic songs. On getting out of school one evening the girls 
resumed a song they had been singing the previous evening. I joined 
willingly, if timidly, my knowledge of Gaelic being small. The 
schoolmaster heard us, however, and called us back. He punished 
us till the blood trickled from our fingers, although we were big girls, 
with the dawn of womanhood upon us. The thought of that scene 
thrills me with indignation.' 

I was taking down a story from a man, describing how twin giants 
detached a huge stone from the parent rock, and how the two carried 
the enormous block of many tons upon their broad shoulders to lay 
it over a deep gully in order that their white-maned steeds might 
cross. Their enemy, however, came upon them in the night-time 
when thus engaged, and threw a magic mist around them, lessening 
their strength and causing them to fail beneath their burden. In 
the midst of the graphic description the grandson of the narrator, 
himself an aspirant teacher, called out in tones of superior authority, 
' Grandfather, the teacher says that you ought to be placed upon the 
stool for your lying Gaelic stories.' The old man stopped and gasped 
in pained surprise. It required time and sympathy to soothe his 
feelings and to obtain the rest of the tale, which was wise, beautiful, 
and poetic, for the big, strong giants were Frost and Ice, and their 
subtle enemy was Thaw. The enormous stone torn from the parent 
rock is called 'Clach Mhor Leum nan Caorach,' the big stone of the 
leap of the sheep. Truly 'a little learning is a dangerous thing'! 
This myth was afterwards appreciated by the Royal Society of 
Edinburgh. 

After many failures, and after going far to reach him, I induced 
a man to come to the lee of a knoll to tell me a tale. We were well 
into the spirit of the story when two men from the hill passed us. 
The story-teller hesitated, then stopped, saying that he would be 
reproved by his family, bantered by his friends, and censured by 
his minister. The -story, so inauspiciously interrupted and never 
resumed, was the famous 'Sgeul Coise Cein,' already mentioned. 

Having made many attempts, I at last succeeded in getting a 
shepherd to come to me, in order to be away from his surroundings. 
The man travelled fifty-five mile.s, eight of these being across a 
stormy strait of the Atlantic. We had reached the middle of a tale 
when the sheriff of the district came to call on me in my rooms. 



INTRODUCTION xxvii 

The reciter fled, and after going more than a mile on his way home 
lie met a man who asked him wliy he looked so scared, and why 
without his bonnet. The shepherd discovered that he had left his 
bonnet, his plaid, and his staff' behind him in his flight. The 
remaining half of that fine story, as well as much other valuable 
Gaelic lore, died with the shepherd in Australia. 

Ministers of Lewis used to say that the people of Lewis were little 
better than pagans till the Reformation, perhaps till the Disruption. 
If they were not, they have atoned since, being now the most rigid 
Christians in the British Isles. 

When Dr William Forbes Skene was preparing the third volume 
of Celtic Scotland, he asked me to write him a paper on the native 
system of holding the land, tilling the soil, and apportioning the 
stock in the Outer Hebrides. Being less familiar with Lewis than 
with the other portions of the Long Island, I visited Lewis again. 
It was with extreme difficulty that I could obtain any information on 
the subject of my inquiry, because it related to the foolish past rather 
than to the sedate present, to the secular afl^airs rather than to the 
religious life of the people. When I asked about old customs and 
old modes of working, I was answered, ' Good man, old things are 
passed away, all things are become new ' ; for the jieople of Lewis, 
like the people of the Highlands and Islands generally, carry the 
Scriptures in their minds and apply them in their speech as no other 
people do. It was extremely disconcerting to be met in this manner 
on a mission so desirable. 

During my quest I went into a house near Ness. The house was 
clean and comfortable if plain and unpretending, most things in it 
being home-made. There were three girls in the house, young, 
comely, and shy, and four women, middle-aged, handsome, and 
picturesque in their homespun gowns and high-crowned mutches. 
Three of the women had been to the moorland pastures with their 
cattle, and had turned in here to rest on their way home. 

' Hail to the house and household,' said I, greeting the inmates 
in the salutation of our fathers. ' Hail to you, kindly stranger,' 
replied the housewife. ' Come forward and take this seat. If it be 
not ill-mannered, may we ask whence you have come to-day .'' You 
are tired and travel-stained, and probably hungi-y .'' ' 'I have come 
from Gress,' said I, ' round by Tolasta to the south, and Tolasta to 
the north, taking a look at the ruins of the Church of St Aula, at 
Gress, and at the ruins of the fort of Dunothail, and then across the 
moorland.' ' May the Possessor keep you in His own keeping, good 



xxviii INTRODUCTION 

man! You left early and hive travelled far, and must be hunj^ry.' 
With this the woman raised her eyes towards her dautrhters standing 
demurely silent, and motionless as Greek statues, in the background. 
In a moment the three fair girls became active and animated. One 
ran to the stack and brought in an armful of hard, black peats, 
another ran to the well and brought in a pail of clear spring water, 
while the third quickly spread a cloth, white as snow, upon the table 
in the inner room. The three neighbour women rose to leave, and 
I rose to do the same. ' Where are you going, good man ? ' asked 
the housewife in injured surprise, moving between me and the door. 
' You must not go till you eat a bit and drink a sip. That indeed 
would be a reproach to us that we would not soon get over. These 
slips of lassies and I would not hear the end of it from the men at the 
sea, were we to allow a wayfarer to go from our door hungr}', thirsty, 
and weary. No ! no ! j'ou must not go till you eat a bite. Food will 
be ready presently, and in the meantime you will bathe your feet 
and dry your stockings, which are wet after coming through the 
marshes of the moorland.' Then the woman went down upon her 
knees, and washed and dried the feet of the stranger as gently and 
tenderly as a mother would those of her child. ' We have no 
stockings to suit the kilt,' said the woman in a tone of evident 
regret, 'but here is a pair of stockings of the houseman's which he 
has never had on, and perhaps you would put them on till your own 
are dry.' 

One of the girls had already washed out my stockings, and they 
were presently drying before the bright fire on the middle of the 
floor. I deprecated all this trouble, but to no purpose. In an 
incredibly short time I was asked to go ' ben ' and break bread. 

Through the pressure of the housewife and of myself the other 
three women had resumed their seats, uneasily it is true. But 
immediately before food was announced the three women rose 
together and quietly walked away, no urging detaining them. 

The table was laden with wholesome food sufficient for several 
persons. There were fried herrings and boiled turbot fresh from the 
sea, and eggs fresh from the yard. There were fresh butter and 
salt butter, wheaten scones, barley bannocks, and oat cakes, with 
excellent tea, and cream. The woman apologised that she had no 
' aran coinnich '. — -moss bread, that is, loaf bread^ — and no biscuits, 
they being simple crofter people far away from the big town. 

' This,' said I, taking my seat, ' looks like the table for a " reiteach," 
betrothal, rather than for one man. Have you betrothals in Lewis ? ' 



INTRODUCTION sxix 

I asked, turning my eyes towards the other room where we had left 
the three comely maidens. ' Oh, indeed, yes, the Lewis people are 
very good at marrying. Foolish young creatures, they often marry 
before they know their responsibilities or realise their difficulties,' 
and her eyes followed mine in the direction of her own young 
daughters. ' I suppose there is much fun and rejoicing at your 
marriages — music, dancing, singing, and merry-making of many 
kinds ? ' ' Oh, indeed, no, our weddings are now quiet and becoming, 
not the foolish things they were in my young days. In m)' memory 
weddings were great events, with singing and piping, dancing and 
amusements all night through, and generally for two and three nights 
in succession. Indeed, the feast of the "bord breid," kertch table, 
was almost as great as the feast of the marriage table, all the young 
men and maidens struggling to get to it. On the morning after the 
maiTÌage the mother of the bride, and failing her the mother of the 
bridegroom, placed the "breid tri chearnach," three-cornered kertch, 
on the head of the bride before she rose from her bed. And the 
mother did this "an ainm na Teoire Beannaichte," in name of the 
Sacred Three, under whose guidance the young wife was to walk. 
Then the bride arose and her maidens dressed her, and she came 
forth with the " breid beannach," pointed kertch, on her head, and 
all the people present saluted her and shook hands with her, and the 
bards sang songs to her, and recited "rannaghail mhora," great 
rigmaroles, and there was much rejoicing and merrymaking all day 
long and all night through. " Gu dearbh mar a b'e fleadh na bord 
breid a b'fhearr, chan e gearr bu mheasa " — Indeed, if the feast of 
the kertch table was not better, it was not a whit worse. 

' There were many sad things done then, for those were the days 
of foolish doings and of foolish people. Perhaps, on the day of the 
Lord, when they came out of church, if indeed they went into church, 
the young men would go to throw the stone, or to toss the cabar, or 
to play shinty, or to run races, or to race horses on the strand, the 
young maidens looking on the while, ay, and the old men and women.' 
' And have you no music, no singing, no dancing now at your 
marriages ? ' ' May the Possessor keep you ! I see that you are 
a stranger in Lewis, or you would not ask such a question,' the woman 
exclaimed with gi'ief and surprise in her tone. 'It is long since we 
abandoned those foolish ways in Ness, and, indeed, throughout Lewis. 
In my young days there was hardly a house in Ness in which there 
was not one or two or three who could play the pipe, or the fiddle, 
or the trump. And I have heard it said that there were men, and 



sxx INTRODUCTION 

women too, who could play things they called harps, and lyres, and 
bellow-pipes, but I do not know what those things were.' ' And why 
were those discontinued?' 'A blessed change came over the place 
and the people,' the woman replied in earnestness, 'and the good men 
and the good ministers who arose did away with the songs and the 
stories, the music and the dancing, the sports and the games, that 
were perverting the minds and ruining the souls of the people, 
leading them to folly and stumbling.' ' But how did the people 
themselves come to discard their sports and pastimes ? ' ' Oh, the 
good ministers and the good elders preached against them and went 
among the people, and besought them to forsake their follies and 
to return to wisdom. They made the people break and burn their 
pipes and fiddles. If there was a foolish man here and there who 
demurred, the good ministers and the good elders themselves broke 
and burnt their instruments, saying : — 

" Is fearr an teine beag a gharas la Better is the small fire that warms on 

beag na sithe, the little day of peace, 

Na'n teine mor a loisgeas la mor Than the big fire that burns on the 

na feirge. " great day of wrath. 

The people have forsaken their follies and their Sabbath-breaking, 
and there is no pipe, no fiddle here now,' said the woman in evident 
satisfaction. ' And what have you now instead of the racing, the 
stone-tlu'owing, and the cabar-tossing, the song, the pipe, and the 
dance ? ' ' Oh, we have now the blessed Bible preached and explained 
to us faithfully and earnestly, if we sinful people would only walk in 
the right path and use our opportunities.' 

' But what have you at your weddings ? How do you pass the 
time ? ' ' Oh ! the carles are on one side of the house talking of their 
crops and their nowt, and mayhap of the days when they were young 
and when things were different. And the young men are on the 
other side of the house talking about boats, and sailing, and militia, 
and naval reserve, perhaps of their own strength, and of many foolish 
matters besides. 

' And where are the girls ? What are they doing ? ' ' Oh, they, 
silly things! are in the "culaist," back-house, perhaps tr3'ing to 
croon over some foolish song under their breath, perhaps trying to 
amble through some awkward steps of dancing on the points of 
their toes, or, shame to tell, perhaps speaking of what dress this or 
that girl had on at this or that marriage, or worse still, what hat 
this girl or that girl had on on the Day of the Lord, perhaps even 
no the Day of the Holy Communion, showing that their minds were 



INTRODUCTION xxxi 

on the vain thinifs of the world instead of on the wise things of 
salvation.' 

' But why are the girls in the " culaist " ? What do they fear ? ' 

' May the Good Being keep you, good man ! They are in the 
"culaist" for concealment, "agus eagal am beatha agus am bais orra 
gun cluinnear no gum faicear iad " — and the fear of their life and 
of their death upon them, that they may be heard or seen should the 
good elder happen to be passing the way.' 'And should he, what 
then .'' ' ' Oh, the elder will tell the minister, and the good minister 
will scold them from the pulpit, mentioning the girls by name. But 
the girls have a blanket on the door and another blanket on tlie 
window to deafen the sound and to obscure the light.' 

' Do the young maidens allow the young men to join them in 
the " culaist " ? ' ' Indeed, truth to tell, the maidens would be glad 
enough to admit the young men were it not the fear of exposure. 
But the young men are so loud of voice, and so heavy of foot, and 
make so much noise, that they would betray the retreat of the girls, 
who would get rebuked, while the young men would escape. The 
girls would then be ashamed and downcast, and would not lift a 
head for a year and a day after their well-deserved scolding. They 
suffer most, for, sad to say, the young men are becoming less afraid 
of being admonished than they used to be.' 

' And do the people have spirits at their marriages ? ' ' Oh yes, 
the minister is not so hai'd as that upon them at all. He does not 
interfere with them in that way uidess they take too much, and talk 
loudly and quarrel. Then he is grieved and angry, and scolds them 
severely. Occasionally, indeed, some of the carles have a nice 
" frogan," liveliness, upon them and are very happy together. But 
oh, they never quarrel, nor fight, nor get angry with one another. 
They are always nice to one another and civil to all around them.' 

' Perhaps were the minister to allow the people less drink and 
more music and dancing, singing and merry-making, they would 
enjoy it as much. I am sure the young girls would sing better, and 
dance better, with the help of the young men. And the young men 
themselves would be less loud of voice and less heavy of heel, among 
the maidens. Perhaps the happiness of the old people too, would 
be none the less real nor less lasting at seeing the joyousness of 
the young people.' 

To this the woman promptly and loyally replied: 'The man of 
the Lord is untiring in work and unfailing in example for our good, 
and in guiding us to our heavenly home, constantly reminding us of 



xxxii INTRODUCTION 

the littleness of time and the greatness of eternity, and he knows 
best, and we must do our best to follow his counsel and to imitate 
his example.' 

A famous violin-player died in the island of Eigg a few years ago. 
He was known for his old style playing and his old-world airs which 
died with him. A preacher denounced him, saying : — ' Tha thu shios 
an sin cul na comhla, a dliuine thruaigh le do chiabhan liath, a 
cluich do sheann fliiodhla le laimh fliuair a mach agus le teine an 
diabhoil a steach ' — Thou art down there behind the door, thou 
miserable man with thy grey hair, playing thine old fiddle with the 
cold hand without, and the devil's fire within. His family pressed 
the man to burn his fiddle and never to play again. A pedlar came 
round and offered ten shillings for the violin. The instrument had 
been made by a pupil of Stradivarius, and was famed for its tone. 
' Cha b'e idir an rud a fliuaradh na dail a ghoirtich mo chridhe cho 
cruaidh ach an dealachadh rithe ! an dealachadh rithe ! agus gun tug 
mi fhein a bho a b'fheaiT am buaile m'athar air a son, an uair a bha 
mi og ' — It was not at all the thing that was got for it that grieved 
my heart so sorely, but the parting with it ! the parting with it ! 
and that I myself gave the best cow in my father's fold for it when I 
was young. The voice of the old man filtered and a tear fell. He 
was never again seen to smile. 

The reciters of religious lore were more rare and more reticent 
than the reciters of secular lore. Men and women whom I knew had 
hymns and incantations, but I did not know of this in time. The 
fragments recalled by their families, like the fragments of Greek or 
Etruscan vases, indicated the originals. 

Before dictating, the reciter went over the tale or poem, the 
winter making mental notes the while. This was helpful when, in 
the slow process of dictating, the narrator lost his thread and omitted 
passages. The poems were generally intoned in a low recitative 
manner, rising and falling in slow modulated cadences charming to 
hear but dillicult to follow. 

The music of the hymns had a distinct individuality, in some 
respects resembling and in many respects differing from the old 
Gregorian chants of the Church. I greatly regret that I was not 
able to record this peculiar and beautiful music, probably the music 
of the old Celtic Church. 

Perhaps no people had a fuller ritual of song and story, of secular 
rite and religious ceremony, than the Highlanders. Mirth and 
music, song and dance, tale and poem, pervaded their lives, as 



INTRODUCTION xxxiii 

electricity pervades the air. Religion, pagan or Christian, or both 
combined, permeated everything — blending and shading into one 
anotlier like the iridescent colours of the rainbow. The people were 
sympathetic and synthetic, unable to sec and careless to know where 
the secular began and the religious ended — an admirable union of 
elements in life for those who have lived it so truly and intensely as 
the Celtic races everywhere have done, and none more truly or more 
intensely than the ill-understood and so-called illiterate Highlanders 
of Scotland. 

If this work does nothing else, it affords incontestable proof that 
the Northern Celts were endowed, as Kenan justly claims for Celts 
everywhere, with 'profound feeling and adorable delicacy' in their 
religious instincts. i 

The Celtic missionaries allowed the pagan stock to stand, grafting 
their Christian cult thereon. Hence the blending of the pagan and 
the Christian religions in these poems, which to many minds will 
constitute their chief charm. Gaelic lore is full of this blending and 
grafting — nor are they confined to the literature of the people, but 
extend indeed to their music, sculpture, and architecture. At Rodail, 
Harris, is a cruciform church of the thirteenth century. The church 
abuts upon a broad square tower of no great height. The tower is 
called ' Tur Chliamain,' tower of Clement, * Cliaman Mor Rodail,' 
Great Clement of Rodail. Tradition says that the tower is older 
tlian the church, and the masonry confirms the tradition. 

There are sculptures within the church of much originality of 
design and of great beauty of execution, but the sculptures without 
are still more original and interesting. Round the sides of the 
square tower are the figures of birds and beasts, reptiles and fishes, 
and of men and women representing phallic worship. Here pagan 
cult joins with Christian faith, the East with the West, the past with 
the present. The traveller from India to Scotland can here see, 
on the cold, sterile rocks of Harris, the petrified symbols of a faith 
left living behind him on the hot, fertile plains of Hindustan. He 
can thus in his own person bridge over a space of eight thousand 
miles and a period of two thousand years. 

There are observances and expressions current in the West 
which savour of the East, such as sun, moon, star, and fire worship, 
once prevalent, nor yet obsolete. 

Highland divinities are full of life and action, local colour and 
individuality. These divinities filled the hearts and minds of the 

' Poetry of the Celtic Races, and Other Studies. By Ernest Renan. 



xxxiv INTRODUCTION 

people of the Highlands, as then" deities filled the hearts and minds 
of the people of Greece and Rome. The subject of these genii of 
the Highlands ought to be investigated and compared with those 
of other lands. Even yet, on the verge of disappearance, they would 
yield interesting results. Though loving their haunts and tenacious 
of their habitats, the genii of the Highlands are disappearing before 
the spirit of modernism, as the Bed Indian, once bold and courageous, 
disappears before the white man. Once intrusive, they are now 
become timid as the mullet of the sea, the shrew of the gi'ass, or the 
swift of the air — a glimpse, a glint, and gone for ever. They are 
startled at the crack of the rifle, the whistle of the steamer, the 
shriek of the train, and the click of the telegraph. Their homes are 
invaded and their repose is disturbed, so that they find no rest for 
their weary feet nor sleep for their heavy eyes ; and their native 
land, so full of their love, so congenial to their hearts, will all too 
soon know them no more. Let an attempt be made even yet to 
preserve their memories ere they disappear for ever. 

Whatever be the value of this work, it is genuine folk-lore, taken 
down from the lips of men and women, no part being copied from 
books. It is the product of far-away thinking, come down on the 
long stream of time. Who tlie thinkers and whence the stream, who 
can tell ? Some of the hymns may have been composed within the 
cloistered cells of Derry and lona, and some of the incantations 
among the cromlechs of Stonehenge and the standing-stones of 
Callarnis. These poems were composed by the learned, but they 
have not come down through the learned, but through the unlearned 
— not through the lettered few, but through the unlettered many — 
through the crofters and cottars, the herdsmen and shepherds, of the 
Highlands and Islands. 

Although these compositions have been rescued chiefly among 
Roman Catholics and in the islands, they have been equally common 
among Protestants and on the mainland. 

From one to ten versions have been taken down, differing more 
or less. It has been difficult to select. Some examples of these 
variants are given. Several poems and many notes are wholly 
withheld, while a few of the poems and all the notes have been 
abbreviated for want of space. 

I had the privilege of being acquainted with Iain F. Campbell of 
Islay during a quarter of a centurj', and I have followed his counsel 
and imitated his example in giving the words and in recording the 
names of the reciters. Some localisms are given for the sake of 



INTRODUCTION xxxv 

Gaelic scholars. Hence the same word may be spelt in different 
ways through the influence of assonance and other characteristics of 
Gaelic compositions. 

With each succeeding generation Gaelic speech becomes more 
limited and Gaelic phraseology more obscure. Both reciter and 
writer felt this when words and phrases occurred which neither 
knew. These have been rendered tentatively or left untranslated. 
I can only hope that in the near or distant future some competent 
scholar may compare these gleanings of mine with Celtic writings at 
home and abroad, and that light may be shed upon what is to me 
obscure. 

I have tried to translate literally yet satisfactorily, but I am 
painfully conscious of failure. Although in decay, these poems are 
in verse of a high order, with metre, rhythm, assonance, alliteration, 
and every quality to please the ear and to instruct the mind. The 
translation lacks these and the simple dignity, the charming grace, 
and the passionate devotion of the original. 

I see faults that I would willingly mend, but it is easier to point 
to blemishes than to avoid them — 

' Is furasda dh'an fhear eisdeaclid It is easy for the listening man 

Beura a ttioir dh'an fliear labhairt.' To give taunt to the speaking man. 

Again and again I laid down my self-imposed task, feeling unable 
to render the intense power and supreme beauty of the original 
Gaelic into adequate English. But I resumed under the inspiring 
influence of my wife, to whose unfailing sympathy and cultured ear 
this work owes much. 

My daughter has transcribed the manuscripts and corrected the 
proofs for press, and has acted as amanuensis throughout ; while my 
three sons have helped in various ways. 

The Celtic letters in the work have been copied by my wife from 
Celtic MSS., chiefly in the Advocates' Library. This has been a 
task of extreme difficulty, needing great skill and patient care owing 
to the defaced condition of the originals. The letters have been 
prepared for the engraver with feeling and insight by Mr John 
Athel Lovegrove, of H.M. Ordnance Survey. 

The Rev. Father Allan Macdonald, Eriskey, South Uist, generously 
placed at my disposal a collection of religious folk-lore made by 
himself For this I am very grateful though unable to use the 
manuscript, having so much material of my own. 

Mr John Henry Dixon, Inveran, Lochmaree, offered to publish 
the work at his own expense. That I have not availed myself of his 



xxxvi INTRODUCTION 

generous appreciation does not lessen my gratitude for Mr Dixon's 
characteristic liberality. 

The portrait is the friendly work and generous gift of Mr W. 
Skeoch Gumming, and is inserted at the request of friends outside 
my family. 

My dear friend Mr George Henderson, M.A. Edin., Ph.D. Leipsic, 
B.Litt. Oxon., has helped and encouraged me throughout. 

These, and the many others whose names I am unable to mention 
through want of space, I ask to accept my warm, abiding thanks. 

Three sacrifices have been made — the sacrifice of time, the 
sacrifice of toil, and the sacrifice of means. These I do not regret. 
I have three regrets — that I had not been earlier collecting, that I 
have not been more diligent in collecting, and that I am not better 
qualified to treat what I have collected. 

These notes and poems have been an education to me. And so 
have been the men and women reciters from whose dictation I wrote 
them down. They are almost all dead now, leaving no successors. 
With reverent hand and grateful heai-t I place this stone upon the 
cairn of those who composed and of those who transmitted the work. 

ALEXANDER CARMICHAEL. 

EniNBiinGH, 
St Michael's Day, 1899. 




ACHAINE 

INVOCATIONS 




ACHAINE 



RANN ROMH URNUIGH 



[1] 




Old people in the Isles sing this or some other short hymn before prayer. 
Sometimes the hymn and the prayer are intoned in low tremulous unmeasured 
cadences like the moving and moaning, the soughing and the sighing, of the 
ever-murmuring sea on their own wild shores. 

They generally retire to a closet, to an out- 

A mi lubadh mo gblun 
An suil an Athar a chruthaich mi, 
An suil an Mhic a cheannaich mi. 
An suil an Spioraid a ghlanaich mi, 

Le caird agus caoimh. 
Tre t'Aon Unga fein a Dhe, 
Tabhair duinn tachar 'n ar teinn, 
Gaol De, 
G radii De, 
Gair De, 
Gais De, 
Gras De, 
Sgath De, 
Is toil De, 
Dheanamh air talamh nan Tre, 
Mar ta ainghlich is naoimhich 
A toighe air neamh. 

Gach duar agus soillse, 
Gach la agus oidhche, 
Gach uair ann an caoimhe, 
Thoir duinn do ghne. 



INVOCATIONS 



RUNE BEFORE PRAYER 

house, to the lee of a knoll, or to the shelter of a dell, that they may not be 
seen nor heard of men. I have known men and women of eighty, ninety, and 
a hundred years of age continue tlie practice of their lives in going from one to 
two miles to the seashore to join their voices with the voicing of the waves and 
their praises with the praises of the ceaseless sea. 

I AM bending my knee 
In the eye of the Father who createtl me, 
In the eye of the Son who purchased me, 
In the eye of the Spirit wlio cleansed me. 

In friendship and affection. 
Through Thine own Anointed One, O God, 
Bestow upon us fulhiess in our need. 
Love towards God, 
The affection of God, 
The smile of God, 
The wisdom of God. 
The grace of God, 
The fear of God, 
And the will of God 
To do on the world of the Three, 
As angels and saints 
Do in heaven ; 

Each shade and light, 
Each day and night, 
Each time in kindness, 
Give Thou us Thy Spirit. 



ACHAINE 



DIA LIOM A LAIGHE 



[2] 



This poem was taken down in 1866 from Mary Macrae, Harris. She came from 
Kintail when young, with Alexander Macrae, whose mother was one of the 
celebrated ten daughters of Macleod of Rararsay, mentioned by Johnson and 
Boswell. Mary Macrae was rather under than over middle height, but strongly 
and syniraetrically formed. She often walked with companions, after the work 
of the day was done, distances of ten and fifteen miles to a dance, and after 
dancing all night walked back again to the work of the morning fresh and 
vigorous as if nothing unusual had occurred. She was a faithful servant and 
an admirable worker, and danced at her leisure and 
carolled at her work like ' Fosgag Mhoire,' Our Lady's 
lark, above her. 

The people of Harris had been greatly given to 

lA lioni a liiighe, 

Dia liom ag eirigh, 
Dia liom amis gach rath soluis, 
Is gun mi rath son as aonais, 
Gun aon rath as aonais. 

Criosda liom a cailal, 
Criosda Horn a dusgadh, 
Criosda liom a caithris, 
Gach la agus oidhche, 

Gach aon la is oidhche. 




Dia liom a comhiiadh 
Domhnach liom a riaghladh, 
Spiorad liom a treoradh, 
Gu soir agus siorruidh, 

Soir agus siorruidh, Amen. 
Triath nan triath, Amen. 



INVOCATIONS 



GOD WITH ME LYING DOWN 

old lore and to the old ways of their fathers, reciting and singing, dancing and 
merry-making ; but a reaction occurred, and Mary Macrae's old-world ways were 
abjured and condemned. 

' The bigots of an iron time 
Had called her simple art a crime.' 

But Mary Macrae heeded not, and went on in her own way, singing her songs 
and ballads, intoning her hymns and incantations, and chanting her own • port-a- 
bial,' mouth music, and dancing to her own shadow when nothing better was 
available. 

I love to think of this brave kindly woman, with her strong Highland charac- 
teristics and her proud Highland spirit. She was a true type of a grand people 
gone never to return. 

God with me lying down, 
God with me rising up, 
God with me in each ray of light, 
Nor I a ray of joy without Him, 
Nor one ray without Him. 

Christ with me sleeping, 
Christ with me waking, 
Christ with me watching. 
Every day and night, 
Each day and night. 

God with me protecting, 
The Lord with me directing. 
The Spirit with me strengthening. 
For ever and for evermore. 

Ever and evermore. Amen. 
Chief of chiefs. Amen. 



ACHAINE 



OIIA NAM BUADH 



[3] 



Duncan Maclellan, crofter, Carnan, South Uist, heard this poera from 
Catherine Macaulay in the early years of this century. When the crofters 
along the east side of South Uist were removed, many of the more frail and 
aged left behind became houseless and homeless, moving among and existing 
upon the crofters left remaining along the west side of the island. 

Among these was Catherine Macaulay. Her people went to Cape Breton. 
She came from Mol-a-deas, adjoining Corradale, where Prince Charlie lived for 
several weeks when hiding in South Uist after Culloden. Catherine Macaulay 
had seen the Prince several times, and had many reminiscences of him and of his 
movements among the people of the district, who entertained him to their best 
when much in need, and who shielded hira to their utmost when sorely harassed. 
Catherine Macaulay was greatly gifted in speaking, and was marvellously 
endowed with a memory for old tales and hymns, runes and incantations, and 
for unwritten literature and traditions of many kinds. 

She wandered about from house to house, and from town- 
/|\ land to townland, warmly welcomed and cordially received 

wherever she went, and remained in each place longer or 
shorter according to the population and the season, and 



ONNLAIiME do bhasa 
Ann am frasa fiona, 
Ann an liu nan lasa, 
Ann an seachda siona, 
Ann an subh craobh, 
Ann am bainne meala, 
Is cuirime na naoi buaidhean glana caon, 
Ann do ghruaidhean caomha geala, 

Buaidh cruth, 

Buaidh guth, 

Buaidh rath, 

Buaidh math, 

Buaidh chnoc, 

Buaidh bhochd. 



INVOCATIONS 



THE INVOCATION OF THE GRACES 

as the people could spare the time to hear her. The description which Duncan 
Maclellan gave of Catherine Macaulay, and of the people who crowded his 
father's house to hear her night after night, and week after week, and of 
the discussions that followed her recitations, were realistic and instructive. 
Being then but a child he could not follow the meaning of this lore, but he 
thought many times since that much of it must have been about the ^vild 
beliefs and practices of his people of the long long ago, and perhaps not so 
long ago either. Many of the poems and stories were long and weird, and he 
could only remember fragments, which came up to him as he lay awake, think- 
ing of the present and the past, and of the contrast between the two, even in 
his own time. 

I heard versions of this poem in other islands and in districts of the mainland, 
and in November 1SS8 John Gregorson Campbell, minister of Tiree, sent me a 
fragment taken down from Margaret Macdonald, Tiree. The poem must 
therefore have been widely known. In Tiree the poem was addressed to boys 
and girls, in Uist to young men and maidens. Probably it was composed to a 
maiden on her marriage. The phrase ' eala dhonn,' brown swan, would indicate 
that the girl was young — not yet a white swan. 

I BATHE thy palms 

In showers of wine. 

In the lustral fire, 

In the seven elements. 

In the juice of the rasps, 

In the milk of honey. 

And I place the nine pure choice graces 

In thy fair fond face, 

The grace of form, 

The grace of voice. 

The grace of fortune, 

The grace of goodness. 

The grace of wisdom. 

The grace of charity, 



ACHAINE 

Buaìdh na rogha finne, 
Buaidh na fior eireachdais, 
Buaidh an deagh labhraidh. 

Is dubh am bail ud thall. 
Is dubh na daoine th'ann, 
Is tu an eala dhonn, 
Ta dol a steach 'n an ceann. 
Ta an cridhe fo do chonn, 
Ta an teanga fo do bhonn, 
'S a chaoidh cha chan iad bonn 
Facail is oil leat. 

Is dubhar thu ri teas, 

Is seasgar thu ri fuachd. 

Is suileau thu dha''n dall, 

Is crann dh'' an deoraidh thruagh, 

Is eilean thu air niuir, 

Is cuisil thu air tir, 

Is fuaran thu am fasach. 

Is slaint dha'n ti tha tinn. 

Is tu gleus na Mnatha Si the. 
Is tu beus na Bride bithe, 
Is tu creud na Moire mine, 
Is tu gniomh na mnatha Greig, 
Is tu sgeimh na h-Eimir aluinn. 
Is tu mein na Dearshul agha. 
Is tu meanni na Meabha laidir. 
Is tu taladh Binne-bheul. 

Is tu sonas gach ni eibhinn, 
Is tu solus gath na greine, 



INVOCATIONS 

The grace of choice uiaidenliness, 
The grace of whole-souled loveliness. 
The grace of goodly speech. 

Dark is yonder town. 
Dark are those therein. 
Thou art the brown swan. 
Going in among them. 
Their hearts are under thy control. 
Their tongues are beneath thy sole. 
Nor will they ever utter a word 
To give thee offence. 

A shade art thou in the heat, 
A shelter art thou in the cold. 
Eyes art thou to the blind, 
A staff art thou to the pilgrim. 
An island art thou at sea, 
A fortress art thou on land, 
A well art thou in the desert, 

Health art thou to the ailing. 

Thine is the skill of the Fairy Woman, 
Thine is the virtue of Kride the calm. 
Thine is the faith of Mary the mild. 
Thine is the tact of the woman of Greece, 
Thine is the beauty of Emir the lovely, 
Thine is the tenderness of Darthula delightful. 
Thine is the courage of Maebh the strong. 
Thine is the charm of Binne-bheul. 



Thou art the joy of all joyous things, 
Thou art the light of the beam of the sun. 



10 ACHAINE 

Is tu dorus flath na feile, 
Is tu corra reul an iuil, 
Is tu ceum feidh nan ardu, 
Is tu ceum steud nam blaru, 
Is tu seimh eal an t-snanihu, 
Is tu ailleagan gach run. 

Cruth aluinn an Domhnuich 
Ann do ghnuis ghlain. 
An cruth is ailinde 
Bha air talamh. 

An trath is fearr 's an latha duit, 

An la is fearr 's an t-seachdain duit. 

An t-seachdain is fearr 's a bhliadhna duit, 

A bhhadhn is fearr an domhan Mhic De duit. 

Thainig Peadail 's thainig Pol, 
Thainig Seunias 's thainig Eoin, 
Thainig Muiril is Muir Oigh, 
Thainig Uiril uile chorr, 
Thainig Airil aill nan og, 
Thainig Gabriel fadh na h-Oigh, 
Thainig Raphail flath nan seod, 
'S thainig Micheal mil air sloigh, 
Thainig 's losa Criosda ciuin, 
Thainig 's Spiorad fior an iuil, 
Thainig 's Righ nan righ air stiuir, 
A bhaireadh duit-se graidh is ruin, 

A bhaireadh duit-se graidh is ruin. 



INVOCATIONS 11 

Thou art the door of the chief of hospitahty. 
Thou art the surpassing star of guidance. 
Thou art the step of the deer of the hill, 
Thou art the step of the steed of the plain, 
Thou art the grace of the swan of swimming. 
Thou art the loveliness of all lovely desires. 

The lovely likeness of the Lord 
Is in thy pure face. 
The loveliest likeness that 
Was upon earth. 

The best hour of the dav be thine. 
The best day of the week be thine. 
The best week of the year be thine, 
The best year in the Son of God''s domain be thine. 

Peter has come and Paul has come, 

James has come and John has come, 

Muriel and Marv Virgin have come, 

Uriel the all-beneficent has come, 

Ariel the beauteousness of the young has come, 

Gabriel the seer of the Virgin has come, 

Raphael the prince of the valiant has come. 

And Michael the chief of the hosts has come. 
And Jesus Christ the mild has come. 
And the Spirit of true guidance has come. 
And the King of kings has come on the helm. 
To bestow on thee their affection and their love. 

To bestow on thee their affection and their love. 



12 



ACHAINE 




ACHANAIDH CHOITCHEANN W 

HE, eisd ri m' urnuigh, 
Lub rium do chluas, 
Leig m^ achan agus m' urnuigh 
T' ionnsuidh a suas. 
Thig, a Righ na glorach 
Da m' chomhnadh a nuas, 
A Righ na bith 's na trocair, 
Le conihnadh an Uain, 
A Mhic na Muire Oighe 
Da m'' chomhnadh le buadh, 
A Mhic na Muire mine 
Is finne-ghile snuadh. 



INVOCATIONS 13 



A GENERAL SUPPLICATION 

God, listen to my prayer, 

Bend to me Thine ear. 

Let my supplications and my prayers 

Ascend to Thee upwards. 

Come, Thou King of Glory, 

To protect me down. 

Thou King of life and mercy 

With the aid of the Lamb, 

Thou Son of Mary Virgin 

To protect me with power. 

Thou Son of the lovely Mary 

Of purest fairest beauty. 



14 



ACHAINE 



DHE BI MAILLE RUINN 



[5] 




The three poems which follow were obtained from Dr Donald Munro Morrison 
in 1889, a few days before he died. Dr Morrison heard them from an old 
man known as ' Coinneach Saor ' — Kenneth the Carpenter^and his wife, at 
Obbe, Harris. These aged people were habitually practising quaint religious 
ceremonies and singing curious religious poems to peculiar music, evidently 
ancient. In childhood Dr Morrison lived much with this couple, and in 
manhood recorded much of their old lore and music. These however he 
noted in characters and notations of his own invention which he did not live 
to render intelligible to others. This is extremely regret- 
table, as Dr Morrison's wonderfully wide, accurate, and 

HE bi maille ruinn 
Air an la an diugh, 

Amen. 
[Dhe bi maille ruinn 
Air an oidhche nochd, 

Amen.] 
Ruinn agus leinn 
Air an la an diugh. 

Amen. 
[Ruinn agus leinn 
Air an oidhche nochd, 

Amen.] 
Tha e soilleir duinn ri leirsinn, 
Bho thaine sinn chon an t-saoghail, 
Gu robh sinn toillteanach air t' fhearg. 

Amen. 
O t' fhearg fein 
A Dhe nan dul. 

Amen. 
Tabhair mathanas duinn. 

Amen. 



INVOCATIONS 15 



GOD HE WITH US 

icientific attainments, deep knowledge of Gaelic, of music, and of acoustics, 
vere only surpassed by his native modesty of mind and teiidcr benevolence of 
leart. He was a distinguished medaUist in several subjects at the University 
)f Edinburgh. 

A Gaelic proverb says : ' Theid dualchas an aghaidh nan creag ' — Heredity 
vill go against the rocks. Dr Morrison was descended from the famous 
lereditary brehons of the Isles. These Morrisons have been celebrated 
hroughout the centuries for their wit, poetry, music, philosophy, medicine and 
icience, for their independence of mind and sobriet)' of judgment, and for their 
)enevolence of heart and unfailing hospitality. 

God be with us 
On this Thy clay, 

Amen. 
[God be with us 
On this Thy night, 

Amen.] 
To us and with us, 
On this Thy day, 

Amen. 
[To us and with us. 
On this Thy night, 

Amen.] 
It is clear to be seen of us, 
Since we came into the world. 
That we have deserved Thy wrath, 

Amen. 
O Thine own wrath. 
Thou God of all, 

Amen. 
Grant us forgiveness, 

Amen. 



16 ACHAINE 



Tabhair mathanas duinn, 

Amen. 
Tabhair duinn do mhathanas fein 
A Dhe mheinich nan dul, 

Amen. 
Ni sam bith is dona duinn. 
No thogas fianuis 'n ar n-aghaidh 
Far am faide am bi sinn, 
Suabharaich thus oirnn e, 
Duabharaich thus oirnn e, 
Fuadaich fein uainn e, 
Agus ruaig as ar cridheachan, 
Duthainn, suthainn, sior, 

Duthainn, suthainn, sior. 
Amen. 



INVOCATIONS 17 

Grant us forgiveness, 

Amen. 
Grant to us Thine own forgiveness, 
Thou merciful God of ah, 

Amen. 
Anything that is evil to us, 
Or that may witness against us 
Where we shall longest be, 
Illume it to us. 
Obscure it to us, 
Banish it from us, 
Hoot it out of our hearts, 
Ever, evermore, everlastingly. 

Ever, evermore, everlastingly. 

Amen. 



18 ACHAINE 




lOS, A MHIC MUIRE M 



OS, u Mhic Muire 
Dean trocair oinui, 

Amen, 
los, a Mhic Muire 
Dean siochain ruinne, 
Amen. 
Ruinn agus leinn 
Far am faide am bi sinn, 

Amen. 
Bi mu thus ar shghe, 
Bi mu chrich ar saoghail. 

Amen. 
Bi aig mosgladh ar beatha, 
'S aig dubhradh ar laithean, 

Amen. 
Bi ruinn agus leinn 
A Dhe mheinich nan dul, 

Amen. 
Coisrig sinn 
Cor agus crann, 
A Re nan re, 
A Dhe nan dul. 

Amen. 
Coisrig sinn 
Coir agus cuid, 
A Re nan re, 
A Dhe nan dul, 

Amen. 



INVOCATIONS 19 



JESU, THOU SON OF MARY 

Jesu, Thou Son of Mary, 
Have mercy upon us, 

Amen. 
Jesu, Thou Son of Mary, 
Make peace with us. 

Amen. 
Oh, with us and for us 
Where we shall longest be, 

Amen. 
Be about the morning of our course. 
Be about the closing of our life, [world 

Amen. 
Be at the dawning of our life, 
And oh ! at the darkening of our day. 

Amen. 
Be for us and with us. 
Merciful God of all. 

Amen. 
Consecrate us 
Condition and lot. 
Thou King of kings, 
Thou God of all. 

Amen. 
Consecrate us 
Rights and means. 
Thou King of kings. 
Thou God of all, 

Amen. 



20 ACHAINE 

Coisrig sinn 
Cri agus ere, 
A Re nan re, 
A Dhe nan dul, 

Amen. 
Gach cri agus ere, 
Gach la dhuit fein, 
Gach oidhche nan reir, 
A Re nan re, 
A Dhe nan dul. 

Amen. 



INVOCATIONS 21 

Consecrate us 
Heart and body, 
Thou King of kings. 
Thou God of all, 

Amen. 
Each hcai't and body. 
Each day to Thyself, 
Each night accordingly, 
Thou King of kings, 
Thou God of all, 

Amen. 



B2 



22 



ACHAINE 




ATHAIll NAOMHA NA GLOIR [7] 

UIDHEACHAS duit, Athair Naomha na Gloir, 
Athair chaomha bhith-bheo, bhith-threin, 
Thaobh gach foghair, gach fabhair, gach foir, 
Tha thu bairigeadh oirnne 'n ar feum ; 
Ge b'e freasdal thig oirnn mar do chlann, 
'N ar cuibhrionn, 'n ar crann, 'n ar ceum, 
Tabhair 'na chuideachd dhuinii soirbhis do lainih 
Agus suilbhireachd saibhir do bheuil. 



Ta sinn ciontach is truaillidh, a Dhe, 

Ann an Spiorad, an ere, is an corp, 

Ann an smuain, am focal, am beus, 

Tha sinn cruaidh 'na do leirsinn 's an olc. 

Cuir-sa tabhachd do ghraidh dhuinn an ceill. 

Bi leum thairis thar sleibhtean ar lochd. 

Is nigh sinn am fior-fhuil na reit 

Mar chanach an t-sleibh, mar leuig an loch. 



An slighe chorraich choitchinn ar gairm, 
Biodh i soirbh no doirbh do ar feoil, 
Biodh i soilleir no doilleir ri seirm. 
Do threorachadh foirfe biodh oirnn. 
Bi 'n ad sgeith dhuinn bho chuilbh an fhir-cheilg, 
Bho'n chreach-cheilgneach ta le dheilg air ar toir, 
Is anns gach run gheobh ar curam r'a dheilbh, 
Bi-sa fein air ar failni is aig ar sgod. 



INVOCATIONS 23 



HOLY FATHER OF GLORY 

Thanks be to Thee, Holy Father of Glory, 

Father kind, ever-loving, ever-powerful. 

Because of all the abundance, favour, and deliverance 

That Thou bestowest upon us in our need. 

Whatever providence befalls us as thy children. 

In our portion, in our lot, in our path. 

Give to us with it the rich gifts of Thine hand 

And the joyous blessing of Thy mouth. 

We are guilty and polluted, O God, 

In spirit, in heart, and in flesh, 

In thought, in word, in act. 

We are hard in Thy sight in sin. 

Put Thou forth to us the power of Thy love. 

Be thou leaping over the mountains of our transgressions. 

And wash us in the true blood of conciliation. 

Like the down of the mountain, like the lily of the lake. 

In the steep common path of our calling. 

Be it easy or uneasy to our flesh. 

Be it bright or dark for us to follow. 

Thine own perfect guidance be upon us. 

Be Thou a shield to us from the wiles of the deceiver. 

From the arch-destroyer with his arrows pursuing us. 

And in each secret thought our minds get to weave. 

Be Thou Thyself on our helm and at our sheet. 



24 ACHAINE 

Ged bhiodh madruich is gadruich gar sgaradh bho'n chro, 

Biodh Aoghar crodha na gloir air ar sgath. 

Ge be cuis no cion-fath no cion-sgeoil 

Bhios gu leireadh no leoin thoir 'n ar dail. 

No bheir fianuis 'n ar n-aghaidh fa-dheoidh, 

Taobh thall abhuinn mhor an dubh-sgail, 

O duabharaich thusa sin oirnn, 

Is as ar cridhe dean fhogradh gu brath. 

Nis dh' an Athair a chruthaich gach creubh, 

Nis dh' an Mhac a phaigh eirig a shloigh, 

Nis dh' an Spiorad an Comhfhurtair treun : — 

Bi d' ar dion is d' ar seun bho gach leon, 

Bi mu thus is mu dheireadh ar reis, 

Bi toil- dhuinn a bhi seinn ann an gloir, 

Ann an sith, ann am fois, ann an reit, 

Far nach silear an deur, far nach eugar ni 's mo. 

Far nach silear an dear, far nach eugar ni 's mo. 



INVOCATIONS 25 

Though clogs and thieves would reive us from the fold. 
Be Thou the valiant Shepherd of glory near us. 
Whatever matter or cause or propensity, 
That would bring to us grief, or pains, or wounds, 
Or that would bear witness against us at the last, 
On the other side of the great river of dark shadows, 
Oh ! do Thou obscure it from our eyes, 
And from our hearts drive it for ever. 

Now to the Father who created each creature. 

Now to the Son who paid ransom for His people, 

Now to the Holy Spirit, Comforter of might : — ■ 

Shield and sain us from every wound ; 

Be about the beginning and end of our race. 

Be giving us to sing in glory. 

In peace, in rest, in reconciliation, 

Where no tear shall be shed, where death comes no more. 

Where no tear shall be shed, where death comes no more. 



26 



ACHAINE 



UIRNIGH 



[«] 




DHIA, 

Ann mo ghniamh, 

Ann nio bhriathar, 

Ann mo mhiann, 

Ann mo chiall, 

Ann an riarachd mo chail, 

Ann mo shuain, 

Ann nio bhruail, 

Ann mo chluain, 

Ann mo smuain, 

Ann mo chridh agus m'anam a ghnath, 

Biodh an Oigh bheannaichte, Moire, 

Agus Ogan geallaidh na glorach a tamh, 

O ann mo chridh agus m'anam a ghnath, 
]3iodh an Oigh bheannaichte. Moire, 
Agus Ogan cubhraidh na glorach a tamh. 



I 



INVOCATIONS 27 



A TRAYER 

O God, 

In my deeds, 

In my words, 

In my wishes, 

In my reason, 

And in the fulfilling of my desires, 

In my sleep, 

In my dreams, 

In my repose. 

In my thoughts, 

In my heart and soul always, 

May the blessed Virgin Mary, 

And the promised Branch of Glory dwell. 
Oh ! in my heart and soul always, 
May the blessed Virgin Mary, 
And the fragrant Branch of Glory dwell. 



28 



ACHAINE 



DUAN NA MUTHAIRN 



[9] 




RIGH na gile, 

A Rigli na greine, 
A Righ na rinne, 
A Righ na reula, 
A Righ na cruinne, 
A Righ na speura, 
Is aluinn do ghnuis, 
A lub eibhinn. 

Da lub shioda 
Shios ri d' leasraich 
Mhinich, chraicich ; 
Usgannan buidhe 
Agus dolach 
As each sath dhiubh 



INVOCATIONS 29 



RUNE OF THE 'MUTHAIRN 

Thou King of the moon, 
Thou King of the sun. 
Thou King of the planets. 
Thou King of the stars. 
Thou King of the globe. 
Thou King of the sky. 
Oh ! lovely Thy countenance. 
Thou beauteous Beam. 

Two loops of silk 

Down by thy limbs, 

Smooth-skinned ; 

Yellow jewels 

And a handful 

Out of every stock of them. 



30 



ACHAINE 



BEANNAICH, A THRIATH NAM 

FLATH FIAL [lo] 



EANNAICH, a Thriath nam flath fial. 
Mi fein 's gach sion a ta iia m' choir, 
Beannaic'h mi 'n am uile ghiiiomh. 
Dean mi tearuinte ri m' bheo. 

Dean mi tearuinte ri m' bheo. 



Bho gach gruagach is ban-sith, 
Bho gach mi-run agus bron, 
Bho gach glaistig is ban-nigh, 
Gach luch-sith agus luch-feoir, 
Gach luch-sith agus luch-feoir. 




Bho gach fuath bhioilh feadh nam beann 
Bho gach greann bhiodh teann d' am their, 
Bho gach uruisg measg nan gleann, 
Teasruig mi gu ceann mo lo, 

Teasruig mi gu ceann mo lo. 



INVOCATIONS 31 



BLESS, O CHIEF OF GENEROUS 
CHIEFS 

Bless, O Chief of generous chiefs, 
Myself and everything anear me, 
Bless me in all my actions. 
Make Thou me safe for ever. 

Make Thou me safe for ever. 

From every brownie and ban-shee. 
From every evil wish and sorrow. 
From every nymph and water-wraith, 
From every fairy-mouse and grass-inouse, 

From every' fairy-mouse and grass-mouse. 

From every troll among the hills, 
From every siren hard pressing me. 
From every ghoul within the glens. 
Oh ! save me till the end of my day. 

Oh ! save me till the end of my day. 



32 



ACHAINE 



SOLUS-IUIL NA SIORRUIDHEACHD [n] 




HE, thug mis a fois na h-oidhch an raoir 
Chon solus aoibh an la an diugh, 
Bi da mo thoir bho sholus ur an la an diugh, 
Chon solus iul na siorruidheachd, 

O ! bho sholus ur an la an diugh, 
Gu solus iul na siorruidheachd. 



INVOCATIONS 33 



THE GUIDING LIGHT OF ETERNITY 

O God, who broughtst me from the rest of last night 
Unto the joyous light of this dav, 
Be Thou bringing me from the new light of this day 
Unto the guiding light of eternity. 

Oh ! from the new light of this day 

Unto the guiding light of eternity. 



34 



ACHAINE 




ACHANAIDH GRAIS 

A mi lubadh mo ghlun 

An suil an Athar a chruthaich mi, 
An suil a Mhic a cheannaich mi. 
An suil a Spioraid a ghlanaich mi, 
Le gradh agus run. 

Doirt a nuas oirnn a flathas 
Trocair shuairce do mhathas ; 
Fhir tha 'n uachdar na Cathair, 
Dean-sa fathamas ruinn. 



[12] 



Tabhair duinn, a Shlan'ear Aigh, 

Eagal De, gaol De, agus gradh, 

Is toil De dheanamh air talamh gach re. 

Mar ni ainghlich is naoimhich air neamh ; 

Gach la agus oidhche thoir duinn do sheimh, 

Gach la agus oidhche thoir duinn do sheimh. 



INVOCATIOiNS 35 



A PRAYER FOR GRACE 

I AM bending my knee 
In the eye of the Father who created me, 
In the eye of the Son who died for me. 
In the eye of the Spirit who cleansed me, 
In love and desiie. 

Pour down upon us from heaven 
The rich blessing of Thy forgiveness ; 
Thou who art uppermost in the City, 
Be Thou patient with us. 

Grant to us, Thou Saviour of Glory, 

The fear of God, the love of God, and His affection, 

And the will of God to do on earth at all times 

As angels and saints do in heaven ; 

Each day and night give us Thy peace. 

Each day and night give us Thy peace. 



36 



ACHAINE 




ACHANAIDH COMHNADH [is] 

HO is tu is Buachaill thar an treuid 

lomain fein sinn do chleidh 's do chaimir, 
Seun sinn fo do bhrot riomhach reidh ; 

A Sgeith dhidinn, dion ri V mairionn. 

Bi-sa do chlaidheamh cruaidh, cosgarra, 
Chon sinne dhion a irinn arrais, 
Bho f higeirich is bho f headaine frinne fuara, 
'S bho dheatliach ruadh an aiseil. 



M' anam an iirrachd an Ard High, 
Micheil murracli an eomhdhail ni' anania. 



INVOCATIONS 37 



PRAYER FOR PROTECTION 

As Thou art the Shepherd over the flock 
Tend Thou us to the cot and the fold, 
Sain us beneath Thine own glorious mantle; 

Thou Shield of protection, guard us for ever. 

Be Thou a hard triumphant glave 
To shield us securely from wicked hell, 
From the fiends and from the slieve snell gullies, 
And from the lurid smoke of the abyss. 

Be my soul in the trustance of the High King, 
Be Michael the powerful meeting my soul. 



C2 



38 



ACHAINE 



EOSAI BU CHOIR A MHOLADH [i4] 

The reciter said that this poem was composed by a woman in Harris. She was 
afflicted with leprosy, and was removed from the community on the upland to 
dwell alone on the sea-shore, where she lived on the plants of the plains and on 
the shell-fish of the strand. 'I he woman bathed herself in the liquid in which she 
had boiled the plants and shell-fish. All her sores became healed and her flesh 
became new — probably as the result of the action of the plants and shell-fish. 
Leprosy was common everywhere in mediaeval times. In Shetland the 
disease continued till towards the end of last century. 
Communities erected lazar-houses to safeguard themselves 
from persons aflhctcd with leprosy. Liberton, now a 
suburb of Edinburgh, derives its name from a lazaretto 
having been established there. 

The shrine of St James of Compostello in Spain was 

U cho fus a dh' losa 
An cranii crion uradh 
'S an crann ur a chrionadh, 
Nam b'e run a dheanadh. 

Eosai ! Eosai ! Eosai ! 

Eosai ! bu choir a mholadh. 

Ni bheil lus an lar 
Nach bheil Ian d'a thoradh, 
Ni bheil cruth an traigh 
Nach bheil Ian d'a shonas. 

Eosai ! Eosai I Eosai ! 

Eosai ! bu choir a mholadh. 




Ni bheil creubh am fairge, 
Ni bheil dearg an abhuinn, 



INVOCATIONS 39 



JESU WHO OUGHT TO BE PRAISED 

famous for the cure of leprosy. Crowds of leper pilgrims from the whole of 
Christendom resorted to this shrine, and many of them were healed to the glory 
of the Saint and the enrichment of his shrine. In their gratitude, pilgrims offered 
costly oblations of silks and satins, of raiments and vestments, of silver and gold, 
of pearls and precious stones, till the shrine of St James of Compostello became 
famous throughout the world. The bay of Compostello was famed for fish and 
shell-fish, and the leper pilgrims who came to pray at the altar of the Saint and 
to bestow gifts at his shrine were fed on those and were healed — according to the 
belief of the period, by tlie miraculous intervention of the Saint. As the palm 
was the badge of the pilgrims to Jerusalem, the scallop-shell was the badge of 
the pilgrims to Compostello : — 

' My sandal shoon and scallop-shell. ' 

It were as easy for Jesu 
To renew the withered tree 
As to wither the new 
Were it His will so to do. 

Jesu ! Jesu ! Jesu ! 

Jesu ! meet it were to praise Him. 

There is no plant in the ground 
But is full of His virtue. 
There is no form in the strand 
But is full of His blessing. 

Jesu ! Jesu ! Jesu ! 

Jesu ! meet it were to praise Hifii. 

There is no life in the sea, 
There is no creature in the river, 



40 ACHAINE 

Ni bheil cail an f'hailbhe, 

Nach bheil dearbh d'a mhaitheas. 

Eosai ! Eosai ! Eosai ! 

Eosai bu choir a mholadh. 

Ni bheil ian air sgeith 
Ni bheil reul an adhar, 
Ni bheil sian fo'n ghrein. 
Nach tog sgeul d'a mhaitheas. 
Eosai ! Eosai ! Eosail 
Eosai bu choir a mholadh. 



INVOCATIONS 41 

There is naught in the firmament, 
But proclaims His goodness. 

Jesu ! Jesu ! Jesu ! 

Jesu ! meet it were to praise Him. 

There is no bird on the wing, 
There is no star in the sky. 
There is nothing beneath the sun. 
But proclaims His goodness. 

Jesu ! Jesu ! Jesu ! 

Jesu ! meet it were to praise Him. 



42 



ACHAINE 



CARRAIG NAN AL 



[15] 




The old man from whom this piece was taken down said 
that in his boyhood innumerable hymns and fragments of 
hymns of this nature were common throughout the isles of 

IR Carraig nan al, 

Sith Pheadail is Phail, 
Sheumais is Eoin na baigh, 
Is na Ian ionraic Oigh, 
Na Ian ionraic Oigh. 

Sith Athar an aigh, 
Sith Chriosda na pais, 
Sith Spiorad nan gras, 
Diiinn fein is do 'n al ta og, 

Duinn fein is do ^n al ta og. 



INVOCATIONS 43 



THE ROCK OF ROCKS 

Barra. When strangers began to come in they derided the old people and 
their old lore and their old ways, and the younger generations neglected the 
ways of their fathers, alike the questionably and the unquestionably good. 

On the Rock of rocks, 
The peace of Peter and Paul, 
Of James and John the beloved, 
And of the pure perfect Virgin, 
The pure perfect Virgin. 

The peace of the Father of joy. 
The peace of the Chri.st of pasch. 
The peace of the Spirit of grace. 
To ourselves and to our children, 
Ourselves and our children. 



44 



ACHAINE 




SORCHAR NAN REUL 

EUCH Sorchar nan reul 
Air corbha nan neul, 
Agus ceolradh nan speur 
Ri luaidh dha. 

Tighinn le caithrim a nuas 
Bho an Athair tha shuas, 
Clar agus farcha nan duan 
Ri seirm dha. 

Chriosd, a chomairc mo ruin 
Com nach togainn do chliu ! 
Ainglich is naomhaich chiuil 
Ri luaidh dhut. 



[16] 



A Mhic Mhoire nam buadh, 
Is fire finne-ghile snuadh, 
Liom bu shon a bhi an cluan 
Do shaoibhreis. 



A Chriosda mo chaoimhe, 
A Chriosda Chro-naoimhe, 
Bithim gach la agus oidhche 
Ri luaidh ort. 



INVOCxVTIONS 45 



THE LIGHTENER OF THE STARS 

Behold the Lightener of the stars 
On the crests of the clouds. 
And the choralists of the sky 
Lauding Him. 

Coining down with acclaim 
From the Father above. 
Harp and lyre of song 
Sounding to Him. 

Christ, Thou refuge of my love. 
Why should not I raise Thy fame ! 
Angels and saints melodious 
Singing to Thee. 

Thou Son of the Mary of graces. 
Of exceeding white purity of beauty, 
Joy were it to me to be in the fields 
Of Thy riches. 

O Christ my beloved, 
O Christ of the Holy Blood, 
By day and by night 
I praise Thee. 



4G 



ACHAINE 



CROIS NAN NAOMH AGUS NAN 

AINGEAL [17] 

ROIS nan naomh agus nan aingeal liom 

Bho fhrois m' aodain gu faobhar mo bhonn. 

***** 

A Mhicheil mhil, a Mhoire ghlorach, 
A Bhride nihin nan dualan orach, 
Dionaibh mi 's a choltmn bhronach, 
Uionadh tri mi air sligh na corach. 
O ! tri mi air sligh na corach. 

Dionaibh mi 's a choich-anama bhochd, 
13ionaibh mi 's rai cho diblidh noclid, 
Dionaibh mi air sligh gun lochd, 
Dionadh tri air mo thi a nochd. 
O ! tri air mo thi a nochd. 




INVOCATIONS 47 



THE CROSS OF THE SAINTS AND 
THE ANGELS 

The cross of the saints and of the angels with me 
From the top of my face to the edge of my soles. 

it * * * * 

O Michael mild, O Mary of glory, 
O gentle Bride of the locks of gold, 
Preserve ye me in the weakly body, 
The three preserve me on the just path. 

Oh ! three preserve me on the just path. 

Preserve ye me in the soul-shrine poor, 
Preserve ye me, and I so weak and naked, 
Preserve ye me without offence on the way, 
The preservation of the three upon me to-night. 
Oh ! the three to shield me to-night. 



48 



ACHAINE 




AN T-AINGHEAL DIONA [is] 

INGHIL Dhe a fhuair mo churam 
Bho Athair cumh na trocaireaehd, 
Ciobaireachd caon cro nan naonih 
Dheanamh dha nio thaobh a nochd ; 



Fuad uani gach buar is cunnart 
Cuart mi air cuan na dobhachd, 
Anns a chunglait, chaimleit, chumhan, 
Cum mo churach fein an comhnuidh. 



Bi 'na do lasair leith roinham, 

Bi 'na do reuil iuil tharam, 

Bi 'na do ro reidh fotham, 

Is 'na do chiobair caomh mo dheoghann, 

An diugh, an nochd agus gu suthann. 



Tha mi sgith is mi air m' aineol, 
Treoraich mi do thir nan aingheal ; 
Liom is tim a bhi dol dachaidh 
Do chuirt Chriosd, do shith nam flathas. 



INVOCATIONS 49 



THE GUARDIAN ANGEL 

Thou angel of God who hast charge of me 
From the dear Father of mercifuhiess. 
The shepherding kind of the fold of the saints 
To make round about me this night ; 

Drive from me every temptation and danger. 
Surround me on the sea of unrighteousness, 
And in the narrows, crooks, and straits. 
Keep thou my coracle, keep it always. 

Be thou a bright flame before me, 

Be thou a guiding star above me, 

Be thou a smooth path below me. 

And be a kindly shepherd behind me, / 

To-day, to-night, and for ever. 

I am tired and I a stranger. 

Lead thou me to the land of angels ; 

For me it is time to go home 

To the court of Christ, to the peace of heaven. 



50 



ACHAINE 




RUIN 

ABHRAM gacli la a reir do cheartais, 
Gach la taisbim do smachd, a Dhe ; 
Labhram gach la a reir do reachd-sa, 
Gach la is oidhche bithim toijrh riut fein. 



Gach la cunntam fath do throcair, 
Toirim gach la dha do nosda speis ; 
Gach la tionnsgam fein dhut oran, 
Teillim gach la do ghloir, a Dhe. 



Beirim gach la gaol dhut, losa, 
Gach oidhche nithim da reir ; 
Gach la 's oidhche, duar is soillse, 
Luaidhim do chaoibhneas dhomh, a Dhe. 



[19] 



INVOCATIONS 51 



DESIRES 

May I speak each day according to Thy justice, 
Each day may I show Thy chastening, O God ; 
May I speak each day according to Thy wisdom, 
Each day and night may I be at peace with Thee. 

Each day may I count the causes of Thy mercy, 
May I each day give heed to Thy laws ; 
Each day may I compose to Thee a song. 
May I harp each day Thy praise, O God. 

May I each day give love to Thee, Jesu, 
Each night may I do the same ; 
Each day and night, dark and light. 
May I laud Thy goodness to me, O God. 



52 ACHAINE 



ORA CEARTAIS [20] 

PnovERBS anent law and justice abound in Gaelic, as :— ' Is cam agus is direach 
an lagh ' : — Crooked and straight is the law. ' Bheir buidire breith ach co bheir 
ceartas?'-— A witling may give judgment, but who will give justice? ' Colach 
ri ceart a mhadaidh-ruaidh, lugach, liugach, laraalach " — Like the justice of the 
fox, crooked, cunning, corrupt. 

The administration of law and justice throughout the Highlands and Islands 
before the abolition of heritable jurisdictions was inadequate — men being too 
often appointed to administer justice not from their fitness but from their 
influence. Probably the feeling of distrust engendered by this absence of even- 
handed justice evoked these poems from the consciousness of the people and led 
them to appeal their cause to a Higher Court. 

The litigant went at morning dawn to a place where three streams met. 
And as the rising sun gilded the moimtain crests, the man placed his two palms 
edgeways together and filled them with water from the junction of the streams. 
Dipping his face into this improvised basin, he fervently repeated the prayer, 

ONNLAIDH mise m' aodann 
''S na naodh gatha greine, 
Mar a dh' iomilaid Moire a Mac 
Am bainne brae na breine. 

Gaol a bhi 'na m' aodann, 
Caomh a bhi 'na m' ghnuis, 
Caora meala 'na mo theanga, 
M' anail mar an tuis. 

Is dubh am bail ud thall, 
Is dubh daoine th' ann ; 
Is mis an eala bhan, 

Banruinn os an ceann. 

Falbhaidh mi an ainme Dhe, 
An riochd feidh, an riochd each, 
An riochd nathrach, an riochd righ : 
Is treasa liom fin na le gach neach. 




INVOCATIONS 63 



INVOCATION FOR JUSTICE 

after which he made his way to the court, feeling strong in the justice of his 
cause. On entering the court and on looking round the room, the applicant for 
justice mentally, sometimes in an undertone, said — 

' Dhe, seun an teach God sain the house 

Bho steidh gu fraigh ; From site to summit ; 

M' fheart os cinn gach neach. My word above every person, 

Feart gach neach fo m' thraigh.' The word of every person below my foot. 

The ceremonies observed in saying these prayers for justice, like those 
observed on many similar occasions, are symbolic. The bathing represents 
purification ; the junction of three streams, the union of the Three Persons of 
the Godhead ; and the spreading rays of the morning sun, divine grace. The 
deer is symbolic of wariness, the horse of strength, the serpent of wisdom, and 
the king of dignity. 

I WILL wash my face 

In the nine rays of the sun, 

As Mary washed her Son 

In the rich fermented milk. 

Love be in my countenance, 
Benevolence in my mind, 
Dew of honey in my tongue, 
My breath as the incense. 

Black is yonder town. 
Black are those therein, 
I am the white swan, 
Queen above them. 

I will travel in the name of God, 

In likeness of deer, in likeness of horse, 

In likeness of serpent, in likeness of king : 

Stronger will it be with me than with all persons. 

D 2 



54 



ACHAINE 




ORA CEARTAIS 

HE, tha mi liuthail ni' aodainii, 

Anns na naodh gatha greiiie, 

Mar a liuthail Moire a Mac, 

Am bainne brae breine. 

Meilc a bhi 'na m' aodann, 
Maon a bhi 'na m' ghnuis, 
Mire meala 'na mo theanga, 
M' anail mar an tuis. 



[21] 



Is dubh an taigh ud thall. 
Is duibhe daoine a th' ann ; 
Is mis an eala bhan, 

Banruinn os an ceann. 



Falbhaidh mi an ainme Dhia, 
An riochd fiadh, an riochd each, 
An riochd nathar, an riochd righ, 
Is cathar mi na gach neach. 



INVOCATIONS 55 



INVOCATION FOR JUSTICE 

God, I am bathing my face 
In the nine rays of the sun, 
As Mary bathed her Son 

In generous milk fermented. 

Sweetness be in my face. 
Riches be in my countenance. 
Comb-honey be in my tongue. 
My breath as the incense. 

Black is yonder house, 
Blacker men therein ; 
I am the white swan, 
Queen over them. 

I will go in the name of God, 
In likeness of deer, in likeness of horse. 
In likeness of serpent, in likeness of king. 
More victorious am I than all persons. 



56 



ACHAINE 




ORA BUAIDH 

ONNLAIDH mi m'' aodann 
"S na naoi gatha greine, 
Mar a dh' ionnlaid Moir a Mac, 
Am bainne bragh na breine. 

Mil a bhi 'na m' bheul, 
Seirc a bhi 'na m' aodann ; 
An gaol thug Moire dha Mac 

Bhi an cridhe gach cairc domlisa. 

Gum bu suileach, cluasach, briathrach Dia, 
Da m' riarachadh, is da m' neartachadh ; 
Gum bu dall, bodhar, balbh, sion sior, 
Mo luchd tair is mo luchd taimhlis. 



[22] 



Teanga Chalum-chille 'na mo cheann, 
Agall Chalum-chille 'na mo chainn ; 
Foisneachd Mhic bhuadhaich nan gras 
Dhol thugam-sa an lathair sluaish. 



INVOCATIONS 57 



PRAYER FOR VICTORY 

I BATHE my face 

In the nine rays of the sun, 

As Mary bathed her Son 

In the rich fermented milk. 

Honey be in my mouth. 
Affection be in my face ; 
The love that Mary gave her Son 

Be in the heart of all ffesh for me. 

All-seeing, all-hearing, all-inspiring may God be, 
To satisfy and to strengthen me ; 
Blind, deaf, and dumb, ever, ever be 
My contemners and my mockers. 

The tongue of Columba in my head. 
The eloquence of Columba in my speech ; 
The composure of the Victorious Son of grace 
Be mine in presence of the multitude. 



58 



ACHAINE 




AN LIUTHAIL 

A mi liuthail m'' aodainn 
An caora caon na greine, 
Mar a liuthail Moire Criosd 
Am baiiine miamh na li-Eiphit. 

Meilc bhi "na mo bhial, 

Ciall bhi 'na mo chainn. 

An gaol thug Moire mhin dha Mac 

Bhi an cridhe gach cairc dhomhsa. 



[23] 



Gradh Chriosd am choni, 

Cruth Chriosd am chomhnadh, 

Chan 'eil am muir no 'm fonn 

Na bheir buaidh air High an Domhnuich. 

Bas Bhride mu m' mhuineal, 
Bas Mhuire mu m' bhraghad, 
Bas Mhicheil dha m' liuthail, 
Bas Chriosda dha m' thearnadh. 



Doigh eile — 

Bith a bhith 'na m' bheul, 
Ceil a bhith 'na m' chainn, 
Bias na sile 'na mo bhile 
Gon an till mi nail. 



INVOCATIONS 59 



THE LUSTRATION 

I AM bathing my face 
In the mild rays of the sun, 
As Mary bathed Christ 
In the rich milk of Egypt. 

Sweetness be in my moutli, 
Wisdom be in my speech, 
The love the fair Mary gave her Son 
Be in the heart of all flesh for me. 

The love of Christ in my breast. 

The form of Christ protecting me, 

There is not in sea nor on land 

That can overcome the King of tlic Lord^s Day. 

The hand of Hride about my neck, 
Tlie hand of Mary about my breast, 
The hand of Michael laving me, 
The hand of Christ saving me. 



Variant — 

Force in my mouth. 

Sense be in my speech, 

The taste of nectar on my li])s, 

Till I return hither. 



60 



ACHAINE 



ORA BOISILIDH 



[24] 



This poem was taken down at Creagorry, Benbecula, on the 16th of December 
1872, from Janet Campbell, nurse, Lochskiport, South Uist. The reciter had 
many beautiful songs and lullabies of the nursery, and many instructive 
sayings and fables of the animal world. These she sang and told in the 
most pleasing and natural manner, to the delight of her listeners. 
Birds and beasts, reptiles and insects, whales and fishes talked 
and acted through her in the most amusing manner, and in the 

OISILEAG air th'aois, 

Boisileag air th'fhas, 
Boisileag air th' ugan, 
Tuilim air a chail. 



Air do chuid an chugan dhut, 
Gruidhim agus cal ; 

Air do chuid an ghabhail dhut. 
Meal is bainne blath. 




Air do chuid an chomaidh dhut, 

Omhan agus ais ; 
Air do chuid an chobhartaich 

Le bogha agus gais. 

Air do chuid an uidheam dhut, 
Uibhean buidhe Chasg ; 

Air do chuid an chuileagan, 
M' ulaidh agus m' agh. 



Air do chuid an chuilm dhut, 

Uilim agus can ; 
Air do chuid an chuihdh dhut 

Cuisilin mo ghraidh. 



INVOCATIONS 61 



BATHING PRAYER 

most idiomatic Gaelic. Her stories had a charm for children, and it was 
delightful to see a small cluster of little ones pressing round the narrator, all 
eyes, all ears, all mouth, and all attention, listening to what the bear said to the 
bee, the fox to the lamb, the harrier to the hen, the serpent to the pipet, the 
whale to the herring, and the brown otter of the stream to the silvery grilse of 
the current. Those fair young heads, now, alas ! widely apart, probably 
remember some of the stories heard at Janet Campbell's knee better than those 
they afterwards heard in more formal schools. 

A PALMFUL for thine age, 

A palniful for thy growth, 
A pahiiful for thy throat, 

A flood for thine appetite. 

For thy sliare of the dainty, 

Crowdie and kail ; 
For thy share of the taking, 

Honey and warm milk. 

For thy share of the supping. 

Whisked whey and milk-product ; 

For thy share of the spoil. 

With bow and with spear. 

For thy share of the preparation. 

The yellow eggs of Easter ; 
For thy share of the treat, 

My treasure and my joy, 

For thy share of the feast 

With gifts and with tribute ; 

For thy share of the treasure, 
Pulset of my love. 



62 ACHAINE 

Air do chuid an fhaghaid dhut, 
Ri aghaidh Beinn-a-cheo ; 

Air do chuid an fhiadhach dhut, 
Is riaghladh air sloigh. 

Air do chuid an luchairt, 
An curtaibh nan righ ; 

Air do chuid a fhlathas dhut, 
Le nihathas is le shith. 

A chuid nach fas 's a chumhanaich. 
Gum fas 's an dubha-thrath ; 

A chuid nach fas 's an oidhche dhiot. 
Air dhruim a mheadhon la. 

Tri baslach 
Nan Tri run, 
Dha do chumhn 
Bho gach tnu, 
Suil agus bas ; 
Baslach Ti nan dul 
Baslach Chriosda chumh, 
Baslach Spiorad numb, 

Tri-un 

Nan gras. 



INVOCATIONS 63 

For thy share of the chase 

Up the face of the Beinn-a-cheo ; 
For thy share of the hunting 

And the ruling over hosts. 

For thy share of palaces, 

In the courts of kings ; 
For thy share of Paradise 

With its goodness and its peace. 

The part of thee that does not grow at dawn, 

May it grow at eventide ; 
The part of thee that does not grow at night, 

May it grow at ridge of middle-day. 

The three palmfuls 

Of the Secret Three, 

To preserve thee 

From every envy. 

Evil eye and death ; 

The palmful of the God of Life, 

The palmful of the Christ of Love, 

The palmful of the Spirit of Peace, 

Triune 

Of Grace. 



64 



ACHAINE 



DHE STIUIR MI 



[25] 




HE stiuir mi le d' ghliocas, 
Dhe smachd mi le d'' cheartas, 
Dhe foir mi le d' throcair, 
Dhe comli'ii mi le d' chumhachd. 

Dhe lion mi le d' lanachd, 
Dhe dion mi le d' sgaileachd, 
Dhe lion mi le d' ghrasachd, 
Air ssath do Mhic Unga. 



losa Criosda a shiol Dhaibhidh, 
Fear-tatliaich an teampuill, 
Uan-iobairt a gharaidh, 
A bhasaich air mo shon. 



INVOCATIONS 65 



GOD GUIDE ME 

God guide me with Thy wisdom, 
God chastise me with Thy justice, 
God help me with Thy mercy, 
God protect me with Thy strength. 

God fill me with Thy fullness, 
God shield me with Thy shade, 
God fill me with Thy grace. 
For the sake of Thine Anointed Son. 

Jesu Christ of the seed of David, 
Visiting One of the Temple, 
Sacrificial Lamb of the Garden, 
Who died for me. 



66 



ACHAINE 



BEANNACHADH CADAIL 



[26] 



The night prayers of the people are rmraerous. They are called by various 
names, as : ' Beannachadh Beinge " — Bench-Blessing, ' Beannachadh Bobhstair ' 
— Bolster Blessing, ' Beannachadh Cluasaig ' — Pillow Blessing, ' Beannachadh 
Cuaiche ' — Couch Blessing, ' Coich Chuaiche ' — Couch 
Shrining, ' Altachadh Cadail ' — Sleep Prayer ; and other 
terms. Many of these prayers are become mere fragments 
and phrases, supplemented by the people according to their 
wants and wishes at the time. 

lODH do lamh dheas, a Dhe, fo mo cheann, 
Biodh do shoills, a Spioraid, os mo chionn, 
Is biodh crois nan naodh aingeal tharam sios, 
Bho mhullach mo clnnii gu ioclidar mo bhonn, 
Bho mhullach mo chinn gu iochdar mo bhoun. 

O los gun lochd, a cheusadh gort 
Fo bhinn nan olc a sgiursadh Thu, 
A liuthad olc a rinn mo chorp ! 
Nach urr' mi nochd a chunntachadh, 
Nach urr' mi nochd a chunntachadh. 




A High na fola firinnich, 
Na dibir mi a d' mhuinntireas, 
Na tagair orm mo mhi-cheartan, 
Is na dichuimhnich a d' chunntadh mi, 
Na dichuimhnich a d' chunntadh mi. 



Ciois Mhoir is Mhicheil, bhi tharam ann an sith, 
M' anam a bhi am firinn, gun mhi-run am chom, 
M' anam a bhi an sith aig Sorchair na frithe, 
Micheal crodhal an codhail m' anama, 

Moch agus anmoch, la agus oidhche. Amen. 



INVOCATIONS 67 



SLEEP BLESSING 

It is touching and instructive to hear these simple old men and women in 
their lowly homes addressing, as they 9ay themselves, ' Dia mor nan dul, Athair 
nan uile bheo,' the great God of life, the Father of all Mving. They press upon 
Him their needs and their desires fully and familiarly, but with all the awe and 
deference due to the Great Chief whom they wish to approach and to attract, 
and whose forgiveness and aid they would secure. And all this in language so 
homely yet so eloquent, so simple yet so dignified, that the impressiveness 
could not be greater in proudest fane. 

Be Thy riglit hand, O God, under my head, 

Be Thy light, O Spirit, over me shining. 

And be the cross of the nine angels over me down. 

From the crown of my head to the .soles of my feet. 

From the crown of my head to the soles of my feet. 

O Jesu without offence, crucified cruelly. 
Under ban of the wicked Thou wert scourged. 
The many evils done of me in the body ! 
That I cannot this night enumerate. 

That I cannot this night enumerate. 

O Thou King of the blood of truth, 
Cast me not from Thy covenant, 
Exact not from me for my transgressions. 
Nor omit me in Thy numbering. 

Nor omit me in Thy numbering. 

Be the cross of Mary and of Michael over me in peace. 
Be my soul dwelling in truth, be my heart free of guile, 
Be my soul in peace with thee. Brightness of the mountains. 
Valiant Michael, meet thou my soul. 

Morn and eve, day and night. May it be so. 



68 



ACHAINE 




THIGEAM AN DIUGH [27] 

HIGEAM an diugh \in t-Athair, 
Thigeam an diugh 'an Mhac, 
Thigeani 'an Spiorad neartor naomh ; 
Thigeam an diugh le Dia, 
Thigeam an diugh le Criosd, 
Thigeam le Spiorad ioeshlaint chaomh. 

Dia, agus Spiorad, agus los, 
Bho mhullach mo chinn, 
Gu iochdar mo bhonn ; 
Thigeam le mo chliu, 
Falbham le mo theasd, 
Thigeam thugad, losa — 
losa, dean mo leasd. 



INVOCATIONS 69 



COME I THIS DAY 

Come I this day to the Father, 

Come I this day to the Son, 

Come I to the Holy Sjiirit powerful ; 

Come I this day with God, 

Come I this day with Christ, 

Come I with the Spirit of kindly balm. 

God, and Spirit, and Jesus, 
From the crown of my head 
To the soles of my feet ; 
Come I with my reputation. 
Come I with my testimony, 
Come I to Thee, Jesu — 
Jesu, shelter nie. 



70 



ACHAINE 



AN ACHANAIDH ANAMA 



lOS, a nochd, 
Aghair nam bochd, 
Cholann gun lochd, 
Dh' f huilinn gu gort, 
Fo bhinn nan olc, 
'S a cheusadh. 



Saor mi bho olc, 
Saor mi bho lochd, 
Caomhain mo chorp, 
Naomhaich mi nochd, 
O los, a nochd, 
'S na treig mi. 



[28] 




Bairig donih neart, 
Aghair nam feart, 
Stiuir mi 'na d' cheart, 
Stiuir mi 'na d' neart, 
O los, 'na d' neart 
Gleidh mi. 



INVOCATIONS 71 



THE SOUL PLAINT 

O Jesu ! to-night, 

Thou Shepherd of tlie poor, 

Thou sinless person 

Who didst suffer full sore, 

By ban of the wicked. 

And wast crucified. 

Save me from evil, 
Save me from harm. 
Save Thou my body, 
Sanctify me to-night, 
O Jesu I to-night, 
Nor leave me. 

iMidow me with strength. 
Thou Herdsman of might. 
Guide me aright, 
Guide me in Thy strength, 
O Jesu ! in Thy strength 
Preserve me. 



72 



ACHAINE 




URNUIGH CHADAIL 



[29] 



A mi cur m' anama 's mo chorp 
Air do chomaraig a nochd, a Uhe, 
Air do chomaraig, losa Criosda, 
Air do chomaraig, a Spioraid na firinne reidh. 
An Triuir a sheasadh mo chuis, 
Is nach cuireadh an cul rium fein. 



Thus, Athair, tha caomh agus ceart, 
Thus, a Mhic, thug air peacadh buaidh. 
Thus, a Spioraid Naoimlie nam feart, 
Da mo ghleidheadh an nochd o thruaigh ; 
An Triuir a dheanadh mo cheart 
Mo ghleidheadh an nochd 's gach uair. 



INVOCATIONS 73 



SLEEPING rRAYER 

I AM placing my soul and my body 
On Thy sanctuary this night, O God, 
On Thy sanctuary, O Jesus Christ, 
On Thy sanctuary, O Spirit of perfect truth. 
The Three who would defend my cause. 
Nor turn Their backs upon me. 

Thou, Father, who art kind and just. 
Thou, Son, who didst overcome death. 
Thou, Holy Spirit of power. 
Be keeping me this night from harm ; 
The Three who would justify me 
Keeping me this night and always. 



74 



ACHAINE 




TIUBHRADH NAN TRI [so] 

PIORAID, tiubhair dhomh do phailteas, 
Athair, tiubhair dhomh do ghliocas, 
Mhic, tiubhair dhomh na m' airceas, 
losa fo fhasga do sgeith. 

Laigheam sios a nochd, 
Le Trithinn mo neart, 
Le Athair, le losa, 

Le Spiorad nam feart. 



INVOCATIONS 75 



THE GIFTS OF THE THREE 

Spirit, give me of Thine abundance. 
Father, give me of Thy wisdom, 
Son, give me in my need, 

Jesus beneath the shelter of Thy shield. 

I lie down to-night, 
With the Triune of my strength, 
With the Father, with Jesus, 
With the Spirit of might. 



76 ACHAINE 




URNUIGH CHADAIL [3i] 



lOS gun lochd , 

A Rigli nam bochd, 
A chiosadh gort 
Fo bhinn nan olc, 
Dion-s, an nochd, 
Bho ludas mi. 

M' anam air do laimh, a Chriosda, 
A Righ na Cathrach Ncomh, 
Is tu cheannaich m' anam, losa. 
Is tu dh' iobair beatha dhomh. 



Teasruig mi air sgath mo sprochd, 
Air sgath do phais, do lot is t' fhala fein, 
Is tabhair tearuint mi an nochd 
Am fochar Cathair De. 



INVOCATIONS 



SLEEP PRAYER 

O Jesu without sin. 
King of the poor, 
Who wert sorely subdued 
Under ban of the wicked, 
Shield Thou me this night 
From Judas. 

My soul on Thine own arm, O Christ, 
Thou the King of the City of Heaven, 
Thou it was who boughfst my soul, O Jesu, 

Thou it was who didst sacrifice Thy life for me. 

Protect Thou me because of my sorrow. 

For the sake of Thy passion, Thy wounds, and Thine own 

blood. 
And take me in safety to-night 

Near to the City of God. 



78 



ACHAINE 




BEANNACHD TAIMH 

N ainm an Tighearn losa, 
Agus Spiorad iocshlaiu aigh, 
An ainm Athar Israil, 
Sinim sios gu tamh. 

Ma tha musal na dusal, 
Na run air bith dhonih 'n dan, 
Dhia fuasgail orni is cuartaich orni. 
Is fuadaich nam mo namh. 



An ainm Athar priseil. 
Is Spiorad iocshlain aigh, 
An ainm Tighearn losa, 
Sinim sios gu tamh. 



[32] 



Dhia, cobhair mi is cuartaich mi, 
O 'n uair 's gu uair mo bhais. 



INVOCATIONS 79 



RESTING BLESSING 

In name of the Lord Jesus, 
And of the Spirit of healing balm, 
In name of the Father of Israel, 
I lay me down to rest. 

If there be evil threat or quirk. 
Or covert act intent on me, 
God free me and encompass me, 

And drive from me mine enemy. 

In name of the Father precious, 
And of the Spirit of healing balm. 
In name of the Lord Jesus, 
I lay me down to rest. 



God, help me and encompass me, 

F'rom this hour till the hour of my death. 



80 



ACHAINE 




COISRIG CADAIL 

UIGHIM sios an nochd 
Le Muire min 's le Mac, 
Le Micheal finn-gheal, 
••S le Bride fo brat. 

Luighim sios le Dia, 
Is luighidh Dia Hum, 
Cha luigh mi sios le Briain. 
'S cha luigh Briain lium. 



[33] 



A Dhe nam bochd, 
Fòir orm an nochd, 
Na treig mi tort, 
A f ionndastaigh, 

Aig meid nan lot 
A reub mi ort, 
Cha leir 'omh nochd 
An cunntachadh. 



A Righ na fola firinnich, 
Na dichuimhn mi 'na d' thuinneachadh, 
Na tagair mi 's 'na mi cheartan, 
Na dibir mi 'na d' chruinneachadh. 
O 'na d' chruinneachadh ! 



INVOCATIONS 81 



SLEEP CONSECRATION 

I LIE down to-night 

With fair Mary and with her Son, 

With pure-white Michael, 

And with Bride beneath her mantle. 

I lie down with God, 
And God will lie down with me, 
I will not lie down with Satan, 
Nor shall Satan lie down with me. 

God of the poor, 
Help me this night. 
Omit me not entirely 
From Thy treasure-house. 

For the many wounds 
That I inflicted on Thee, 

1 cannot this night 
Enumerate them. 

Thou King of the blood of truth, 
Do not forget me in Thy dwelling-place. 
Do not exact from me for my transgressions, 
Do not omit me in Thine ingathering. 
In Thine ingathering. 



82 



ACHAINE 




BEANNACHADH LEAPA [34] 

AIGHIM sios an iioclid mar is coir 

An cluanas Chriosda Mac Oigh nan cleachd, 
An cluanas Athair aigh na gloir, 
An cluanas Spioraid foir nam feart. 



Laighim sios an nochd le Dia, 

Is laighidh Dia an nochd a sios lioni, 

Cha laigh mi sios an nochd le olc, ''s cha dean 

01c no fhiandi laighe liom. 

Laighim sios an nochd le Spiorad Naonih, 

Is laighidh Spiorad Naomh an nochd a sios liom, 

Laighim sios le Teoiridh mo chaoimh, 

Is laighidh Teoiridh mo chaoimh a sios liom. 



INVOCATIONS 83 



BED BLESSING 

I AM lying down to-night as beseems 

In the fellowship of Christ, son of the Virgin of ringlets. 

In the fellowship of the gracious Father of glory, 

In the fellowship of the Spirit of powerful aid. 

I am lying down to-night with God, 
And God to-night will lie down with me, 
I will not lie down to-night with sin, nor shall 
Sin nor sin's shadow lie down with me. 

I am lying down to-night with the Holy Spirit, 
And the Holy Spirit this night will lie down with me, 
I will lie down this night with the Three of my love, 
And the Three of my love will lie down with me. 



84 



ACHAINE 




AN URNUIGH CHADAIL [35] 

HA mis a nis a dol dh' an chadal, 
Gu mu slan a dhuisgeas mi ; 
Ma 's a bas domh anns a bhas chadail, 
Gun ann air do ghairdean fein 
A Dhe nan gras a dhuisgeas mi ; 

O air do ghairdean gradhach fein, 
A Dhe nan gras a dhuisgeas mi ! 



M' anam air do laimh dheis, a Dhe, 

A Re nan neamha neonih ; 

Is tu fein a cheannaich mi le tThuil, 

Is tu thug do bheatha air mo shon, 
Comraig mis an nochd, a Dhe, 
Is na h-eireadh dhomh beud no cron. 



Am feadh bhios a cholann a tamh 's a chadal, 
Biodh an t-anam a snamh an sgath nam flathas, 
Micheal era-gheal an dail an anama, 
Moch agus anmoch, oidhche agus latha, 

Moch agus anmoch, oidhche agus latha. 

Amen. 



INVOCATIONS 85 



THE SLEEP PRAYER 

I AM now goino- into the sleep, 

Be it that I in health shall waken ; 

If death be to me in the death-sleep. 

Be it that on Thine own arm, 

O God of Grace, I in peace shall waken ; 
Be it on Thine own beloved arm, 
O God of Grace, that I in peace shall waken. 

Be my soul on Thy right hand, O God, 

Thou King of the heaven of heavens ; 

Thou it was who bought'st me with Thy blood. 

Thou it was who gavest Thy life for me, 

Encompass Thou me this night, O God, 
That no harm, no evil shall me befall. 

Whilst the body is dwelling in the sleep. 
The soul is soaring in the shadow of heaven, 
Be the red-white Michael meeting the soul, 
Early and late, night and day, 

Early and late, night and day. 

Amen. 



86 



ACHAINE 




COISRIG CADAIL 



A mise laighe nochd 
Le A thai r, le Mac, 
Le Spiorad na firinn, 
Ta 'm dhion o gach lochd. 

Cha laigh mi le olc, 
Cha laigh olc liom, 
Ach laighidh mi le Dia, 
Is laighidh Dia liom. 



[36] 



Dia agus Criosd agus Spiorad naomh, 

Is crois nan naodh aingeal fionn, 

Da m' dhion mar Thri is mar Aon, 

Bho chlar mhuUach m'aodainn jju faobhar mo bhoni 



A Righ na greine agus na gloire, 
Ids a Mhic na h-Oighe cubhra, 
Gleidh-sa sinn a glinn nan diar, 
Is a taigh nan diamha diibhra, 
Gleidh sinn a glinn nan diar, 
Is a taigh nan diamha dubhra. 



INVOCATIONS 87 



SLEEP CONSECRATION 

I AM lying down to-night, 
With Father, with Son, 
With the Spirit of Truth, 
Who shield me from harm. 

I will not lie with evil, 
Nor shall evil lie with me, 
But I will lie down with God, 
And God will lie down with me. 

God and Christ and Spirit Holy, 

And the ci-oss of the nine white angels, 

Be protecting me as Three and as One, 

From the top tablet of my face to the solos of my feet. 

Thou King of the sun and of glory. 
Thou Jesu, Son of the Virgin fragrant. 
Keep Thou us from the glen of tears, 
And from the house of grief and gloom. 

Keep us from the glen of tears. 

From the house of grief and gloom. 



ACHAINE 



BEANNACHADH LEAPA [37] 

J:.! AIGHIM sios an nochd, 

^/b/?- Le Moire mhin is le Mac, 

-r< Le Mathair mo High, 

sV Tha da m' dhion o gach lochd. 

iv^Kjj^'- Cha laigh mi leis an olc, 

■W -V/' ^'^'^ laigh an t' olc liom, 

^bk3«^' Ach laighidh mi le Dia, 

Is laighidh Dia liom. 

Dia agus Moire agus ]\Iicheal caon, 
Agus crois nan naodh aingeal fionn 
Da m' dhion mar Thri is mar Aon, 
Bho chlar m' aodaiini gu faobliar mo bhuinn. 

Guidheam Peadail, guidheam Pol, 
Guidheam Moir Oigh, guidheam am Mac, 
Guidheam an da Ostal dochaidh deug 
Mo ghleidheadh bho bheud 's bho lochd ; 

O gun mi a dhol eug a nochd. 

Gun mi a dhol eug a nochd ! 

A Dhia, agus a Mhoire na glorach, 

los, a Mhic na h-Oighe cubhraidh, 

Siantaibh sinn bho phiantaibh siorruidh, 

'S bho theine diantaidh dubhraidh, 
Sinn bho phiantaidh siorruidh, 
'S bho theine diantaidh dubhraidh. 



i 



INVOCATIONS 89 



BED BLESSING 

I AM lying down to-night, 
With Mary mild and with her Son, 
With the Mother of uiy King, 
Who is shielding me from harm. 

I will not lie down with evil. 
Nor shall evil lie down with me, 
But I will lie down with God, 
And God will lie down with me. 

God and Mary and Michael kindly 

And the cross of the nine angels fair. 

Be shielding me as Three and as One, 

From the brow of my face to the edge of my soles. 

I beseech Peter, I beseech Paul, 
I beseech Mary, I beseech the Son, 
I beseech the trustful Apostles twelve 
To preserve me from hurt and harm ; 

O from dying to-night, 

Prom dying to-night ! 

O God ! O Mary of Glory ! 

O Jesu ! Son of the Virgin fragrant. 

Sain Ye us from the pains everlasting, 

And from the fire fierce and murky, 
From the pains everlasting. 
And from the fire fierce and murky ! 



90 ACHAINE 




A CHOICH ANAMA [38] 

The Soul Shrine is sung by the people as they retire to 
rest. They say that the angels of heaven guard them in 
sleep and shield them from harm. Should any untoward 

HE tabhair aithne da f ainghle beannaichte, 
Cairn a chumail air an staing-sa nochd, 
Comachadh crabhaidh, tabhaidh, teannachaidh, 
Chumas a choich anama-sa bho lochd. 

Teasruig a Dhe an t-ardrach seo a nochd, 

lad fein 's an cuid 's an cliu, 
Tar iad o eug, o gliabhadh, o lochd, 

''S o thoradh na farmaid 's na mi-ruin. 

Tabhair duinn, a Dhe na fois, 

Taingealachd an cois ar call, 
Bhi coimhlionadh do Jagh a bhos, 

'S tu fein a mhealtuinn thall. 



INVOCATIONS 91 



THE SOUL SHRINE 

event occur to themselves or to their flocks, they avow that the cause was 
the deadness of their hearts, the coldness of their faith, and the fewness of 
their prayers. 

God, give charge lo Thy blessed angels, 

To keep guard around this stead to-night, 

A band sacred, strong, and steadfast. 

That will shield this soul-shrine from harm. 

Safeguard Thou, God, this household to-night, 
Themselves and their means and their fame, 

Deliver them from death, from distress, from harm, 
From the fruits of envy and of enmity. 

Give Thou to us, O God of peace, 

Thankfulness despite our loss, 
To obey Thy statutes here below. 

And to enjoy Thyself above. 



ACHAINE 




COICH-ANAMA [39] 

-F) INGHIL Dhe, a fhuair mo churam, 

Bho Athair cubhraidh na trocaireachd, 
Cuartachadh caon na Cro-Naoimhe 
A dheanamh air mo choich-anam a nochd, 
O air mo choich-anam a nochd. 

Fuadaich uam gach cuar is ciinnart, 
Cuartaich mi air cuan na corach, 
larram thu dheanamh solus ur romham, 
O ainghil aoibh-ghil, air an oidhche nochd, 

O ainghil aoibh-ghil, air an oidhche nochd. 



Bi fein a d' reuil-iuil os mo chionn, 
Sorchair orm gach foirche is fonn, 
Stiuir mo bharc air bharr an liuinn, 
Chon cala tamh an samhchair thonn, 

Chon cala tamh an samhchair thonn. 



INVOCATIONS 93 



SOUL-SHRINE 

Thou angel of God who hast charge of me 
From the fragrant Fatlier of mercifuhiess, 
The gentle encompassing of the Sacred Heart 
To make round my soul-shrine this night. 
Oh, round my soul-shrine this night. 

Ward from me every distress and danger. 
Encompass my course over the ocean of truth, 
I pray thee, place thy pure light before me, 
O bright beauteous angel on this very night, 
Bright beauteous angel on this very night. 

Be Thyself the guiding star above me. 
Illume Thou to me every reef and shoal, 
Pilot mv barque on the crest of the wave, 
To the restful haven of the waveless sea. 

Oh, the restful haven of the waveless sea. 



94 ACHAINE 




LAIGHIIM AM LEABAIDH [4o] 

AIGHIM am leabaidh, 
Mar a laighinn 's an uaigh, 
Do ruighe ri m' mhuineal, 

Mhic Mhuire nam buadh. 

Bidh ainghlean da m' fhaire 
'S mi am laighe an suain, 
■"S bidh ainghlean da m' chaithris 
'S mi \\ cadal na h-uaigh. 

Bidh Uiril ri m' chasan, 
Bidh Airil ri ni chul, 
Bidh Gabrail ri m' bhathais, 
'S bidh Rafal ri m' thubh. 

Bidh Micheal le m' anam 
Sgiath dhaingean mo ruin ! 
'S bidh an Leighe Mac Moire, 
Cur na seile ri m' shuil, 

'S bidh an Leighe Mac Moire, 

Cur na seile ri m' shuil ! 



INVOCATIONS 95 



I LIE IN MY BED 

I LIE in my bed 

As I would lie in the grave, 

Thine arm beneath my neck, 

Thou Son of Mary victorious. 

Angels shall watch me 
And I lying in slumber, 
And angels shall guard me 
In the sleep of the grave. 

Uiriel .shall be at my feet, 
Ariel shall be at my back, 
Gabriel shall be at my head, 

And Raphael shall be at my side. 

Michael shall be with my soul. 
The strong shield of my love ! 
And the Physician Son of Mary 
Shall put the salve to mine eye, 
The Physician Son of Mary 
Shall put the salve to mine eye ! 



96 



ACHAINE 




URNUIGH MADUINN 



[41] 



AING dhut losda Criosda, 

Thug mis a nios o 'n oidhche 'n raoir 
Chon solas soillse an la 'n diugh, 
Chon sonas siorruidh a chosnadh dha m"' anam, 
An cion na fal a dhoirt thu dhomli. 

Cliu dhut fein a Dhe gu brath, 

An sgath gach agh a bhairig thu orni — 

Mo bhiadh, mo bhriathar, mo ghnionih, mo chail, 



'S tha mi griosad ort 

Mo dhion bho^n olc. 

Mo dhion bho lochd. 

Mo shian an nochd 

"■S mi iosal bochd, 

O Dhia nam bochd ! 

O Chriosd nan lot ! 

Thoir ciall dhomh 'n cois do ghrais. 



Gun coraich an Ti Naomha mi. 
Gun comhnaich air niuir ''s air tir mi, 
'S gun treoraich o ir gu ir mi 
Chon sith na Cathair Shiorruiche, 
Sith na Cathair Shiorruiche. 



INVOCATIONS 97 



MORNING PRAYER 

Thajjks be to Thee, Jesus Christ, 
Who brought'st me up from last night, 
To the gladsome light of this day, 
To win everlasting life for my soul, 
Through the blood Thou didst shed for me. 

I'raise be to Thee, O God, for ever. 

For the blessings Thou didst bestow on me- 

My food, my speech, my work, my health. 



And I beseech Thee 

To shield me from sin. 

To shield me from ill, 

To sain me this night, 

And I low and poor, 

O God of the poor ! 

O Christ of the wounds ! 

Give me wisdom along with Thy grace. 

May the Holy One claim me, 
And protect me on sea and on land. 
And lead me on from step to step, 
To the peace of the Everlasting City, 
The peace of the Everlasting City ! 



d8 



ACHAINE 




AN TIONNSGANN 

AING dhuit, a Dhe 
Thug mise bho 'n de 
Gu tos an diugh, 
Chum solas siorruidh 
A chosnadh dha m' chre 
Le feuni maith. 
^S air son gach tiodhlac sith 
A dh'iobair thu dhomh, 
Mo smuaine, mo bhriathra, 
Mo ghniamha, mo thoil, 
Tha mi tionnsgann duit. 
Tha mi 'g urnuigh riut, 
Tha mi griasad ort, 
Mo chumail bho kichd, 
Mo chomhnadh an nochd, 
Air sgath do lot, 
Le oifreil do ghrais. 



[421 



INVOCATIONS 99 



THE DEDICATION 

Thanks to Thee, God, 

Who brought'st me from yesterday 

To the beginning of to-day. 

Everlasting joy 

To earn for my soul 

With good intent. 

And for every gift of peace 

Thou bestowest on me, 

My thoughts, my words. 

My deeds, my desires 

I dedicate to Thee. 

I supplicate Thee, 

I beseech Thee, 

To keep me from offence, 

And to shield me to-night. 

For the sake of Thy wounds 

With Thine offering of grace. 



100 



ACHAINE 



ACHANAIDH TAIMH 



[43] 




HE, teasruig an tigh, an teine, 's an tan, 

Gach aon ta gabhail tamh an seo an nochd. 
Teasruig mi fein 's mo chroilean graidh. 
Is gleidh sinn bho lamh 's bho lochd ; 
Gleidh sinn bho namh an nochd. 
Air sgath Mhic Mhuire Mhathar 
'S an ait-s 's gach ait a bheil an tamh an nochd. 
Air an oidhche nochd 's gach aon oidhche, 
An oidhche nochd 's gach aon oidhche. 



INVOCATIONS 101 



A RESTING PRAYER 

God shield the house, the fire, the kine, 
Every one who dwells herein to-night. 
Shield myself and my beloved group, 
Preserve us from violence and from harm ; 
Preserve us from foes this night. 
For the sake of the Son of the Mary Mother, 
In this place, and in every place wherein they dwell to-night, 
On this night and on every night, 
This night and every night. 



102 



ACHAINE 




TEISREADH TAIGHE 



[44] 



HE, beannaich an ce 's na bheil aiin, 
Dhe, beannaich mo cheile is mo chlann, 
Dhe, beannaich an re a ta 'na m' cheann. 
Is beannaich, a Dhe, laimhseachadh mo laimh ; 
An am domh eirigh 's a mhaduinn mhoich, 
Is laighe air leabaidh anamoich, 

Beannaich m' eirigh "s a mhaduinn mhoich, 
Is mo laighe air leabaidh anamoich. 



Dhe, teasruig an teach 's an t-ardrach, 
Dhe, coistrig a chlann mhathrach, 
Dhe, cuartaich an spreidh 's an t-alach ; 
Bi-sa fein na'n deigh 's da'n taladh, 
Duair dhireas ni ri frith 's ri fruan, 
Duair shineas mi a sios an suan, 

Duair dhireas ni ri frith 's ri fruan, 
Duair shineas mi an sith gu suan. 



INVOCATIONS 103 



HOUSE PROTECTING 

God, bless the world and all that is therein. 
God, bless my spouse and my children, 
God, bless the eye that is in my head, 
And bless, O God, the handling of my hand ; 
What time I rise in the morning early, 
What time I lie down late in bed, 

Bless my rising in the morning early. 
And my lying down late in bed. 

God, protect the house, and the household, 
God, consecrate the children of the motherhood, 
God, encompass the flocks and the young ; 
Be Thou after them and tending them. 
What time the flocks ascend hill and wold, 
What time I lie down to sleep. 

What time the flocks ascend hill and wold. 
What time I lie down in peace to sleep. 



104 



ACHAINE 




BEANNACHADH TAIGHE 

HE, beannaich an taigh, 
Bho steidh gu staidh, 
Bho chrann gu fraigh, 
Bho cheann gu saidh, 
Bho dhronn gu traigh, 
Bho sgoiiii gu sgaith, 
Eadar bhonn agus bhraighe, 
Bhonn agus bhraighe. 



[45] 



INVOCATIONS 105 



BLESSING OF HOUSE 

God bless the house, 
From site to stay. 
From beam to wall. 
From end to end, 
From ridge to basement, 
From balk to roof-tree. 
From found to summit. 
Found and summit. 



106 



ACHAINE 



CO DHA DHIOLAS MI CIOS 



[46] 




O dha dliiolas mi cios 

An aium Mhicheil o'li aird ? 
Thugam deachamh dhe \n ni, 
Dh' an Diobaraeh Aigh. 

Air sgath na chuniia mi, 
Do shitii is d'a bhaigh. 
Tog m' anam riut, a Mhic De, 
Na treis mi gu brath. 



Cuimhnich orm aims an t-sliabh, 

Fo do sgiath dean-sa mo sgail ; 

Charra na firinn na dibir mi'n cian 

B'e mo mhiann bhi gu siorruidh "na d' dhail. 



Tabhair domh trusgan bainnse, 
Biodh ainghlean a cainnt rium 's gach cas, 
Biodh ostail naomha da m' dhion, 
Moire mhin is thus, losa nan gras. 

Moire mhin is thus, lusa nan gras. 



INVOCATIONS 107 



TO WHOM SHALL I OFFER OBLATION 

To whom shall I offer oblation 
In name of Michael on high ? 
I will give tithe of my means 
To the forsaken illustrious One. 

Because of all that I have seen, 

Of His peace and of His mercy, 

Lift Thou my soul to Thee, O Son of God, 

Nor leave me ever. 

Remember me in the mountain, 
Under Thy wing shield Thou me ; 
Rock of truth, do not forsake me. 
My wish it were ever to be near Thee. 

Give to me the wedding garment. 

Be angels conversing with me in every need, 

Be the holy apostles protecting me. 

The fair Mary and Thou, Jesu of grace. 

The fair Mary and Thou, Jesu of grace. 



108 



ACHAINE 



EARNA MHOIRE 



[47] 




AILT, a Mhoire ! failt, a Mhoire ! 

Righinn nan gras, Mathair na trocair ; 
Failt, a Mhoire, air mhodh gun choimeas, 

Geil ar slainte, fath ar solais. 

Riut tha sinne, dh' oidhch 's a latha, 

Sliochd seachranach Adhanih is Eubha, 

Togail ar guth 's ag achan. 

An gul 's an gal 's an deura. 



Tabhair duinn, a Fhreimh an aigh, 
O 's tu copan nan grasa fial, 

Creid Eoin, is Pheaid, is Phail, 

Le sgeith Airil an aird nan nial. 



Deoin dhuinn, a gheug dhonn, 
Aros ann am Foun na sith, 

Tamil o ghabhadh 's o anradh thonn, 
Fo sgath toraidh do bhronu, los. 



INVOCATIONS 109 



HAIL, MARY 

Hail, Mary ! hail, Mary ! 

Queen of grace, Mother of mercy ; 
Hail, Mary, in manner surpassing. 

Fount of our health, source of our joy. 

To thee we, night and day. 

Erring children of Adam and Eve, 
Lift our voice in supplication. 

In groans and grief and tears. 

Bestow upon us, thou Root of gladness. 

Since thou art the cup of generous graces. 

The faith of John, and Peter, and Paul, 

With the wings of Ariel on the heights of the clouds. 

Vouchsafe to us, thou golden branch, 

A mansion in the Realm of peace, 
Rest from the perils and stress of waves. 

Beneath the shade of the fruit of thy womb, Jesu. 



no 



ACHAINE 




FAILTE A MHOIRE [48] 

AILTE dhuit, a Mhoire Mhathair ! 
Tha thu Ian dhe na grasan caomh, 
Tha 'n Tighearna Uia maille riut a ghnath. 
Beannaicht thu, Mhairi, am measg nam mnai, 
Beannaicht toradh do bhronn, losa, 
Beannaicht thu, Righinn an ais ; 
A Naonih Mhoire, a Mhathair losa, 
Guidh air mo shon-sa, peacach truagh, 
Nis agus aig uair mo bhais, 

Nis agus aig uair mo bhais ! 



INVOCATIONS 111 



HAIL TO THEE, MARY 

Hail to thee, Mary, Mother ! 
Thou art full of loving grace. 
The Lord God is always witli thee. 
Blessed art thou Mary among women, 
Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, 
Blessed art thou. Queen of grace ; 
Thou holy Mary, thou Mother of Jesus, 
Plead for me a miserable sinner, 
Now and at the hour of death, 

Now and at the hour of death ! 



112 



ACHAINE 




AN CATH NACH TAINIG 

OSA Mhic Mhoire eighim air th' ainm, 
Is air ainm Eoin ostail ghradhaich, 
Is air ainm gach naoimh ^s an domhan dearg, 
Mo thearmad 's a chath nach tainig. 

Mo thearmad 's a chath nach tainig. 

Duair theid am beul a dhunadh, 
Duair theid an t-suil a dhruideadh, 
Duair sguireas an anail da struladh, 
Duair sguireas an cridhe da bhuille, 
Sguireas an cridhe de bhuille. 

Duair theid am Breitheamh dh' an chathair, 
Is a theid an tagradh a shuidheach, 
losa Mhic Mhoire cobliair air m' anam, 
A Mhicheil mhin gobh ri mo shiubhal. 

losa Mhic Mhoire cobhair air m' anam ! 

A Mhicheil mhin gobh ri mo shiubhal ! 



[49] 



INVOCATIONS 113 



THE BATTLE TO COME 

Jesus, Thou Son of Mary, I call on Thy name, 
And on the name of John the apostle beloved. 
And on the names of all the saints in the red domain, 
To shield me in the battle to come, 

To shield me in the battle to come. 

When the mouth shall be closed, 
When the eye shall be shut. 
When the breath shall cease to rattle. 
When the heart shall cease to throb. 

When the heart shall cease to throb. 

When the Judge shall take the throne. 
And when the cause is fully pleaded, 
O Jesu, Son of Mary, shield Thou my soul, 
O Michael fair, acknowledge my departure. 

O Jesu, Son of Mary, shield Thou my soul ! 

O Michael fair, receive my departure ! 



114 



ACHAINE 



AM BEANNACHADH BAISTIDH 



[50] 



It is known that a form of baptism prevailed among the Celts previous to the 
introduction of Christianity, as forms of baptism prevail among pagan people 
now. Whenever possible the Celtic Church christianized existing ceremonies 
and days of special observance, grafting the new on the old, as at a later day 
Augustine did in southern Britain. Immediately after its birth the nurse or other 
person present drops three drops of water on the forehead of the child. The 
first drop is in the name of the Father, representing wisdom ; the second drop 
is in the name of the Son, representing peace ; 
the third drop is in the name of the Spirit, 
representing purity. If the child be a male 

HI, tha comhnadh nan ard, 

Tiur do bheannachd 'na thrath, 
Cuimhnich-s'' leanabh mo chri, 
An Ainm Athar na sith ; 
Trath chuireas sagart an High 
Air uisge na brigh, 
Builich da beannachd nan Tri 
Ta lionadh nan ard. 
Beannachd nan Tri 
Ta lionadh nan ard. 




Crath nuas air do ghras, 
Tabh dha feart agus fas, 
Tabh dha trein agus treoir, 
Tabh dha seilbh agus coir, 
Rian agus ciall gun gho, 
Gliocas aingeal r''a lo, 
Chum''s gun seas e gun sgeo 
'Na d' lathair. 
Gun seas e gun sgeo 
'Na d' lathair. 



INVOCATIONS 115 



THE BAPTISM BLESSING 

the name ' Maol-donihnuich,' if a female the name ' Griadach,' is applied to it 
temporarily. ' Maol-domhnuich ' means tonsured of the Lord, and ' Griadach ' 
is rendered Gertrude. When tlie child Is ecclesiastically baptized — generally 
at the end of eight days — the temporary is superseded by the permanent name. 
This lay baptism is recognised by the Presbyterian, the Anglican, the Latin, 
and the Greek Churches. If tlie child were not thus baptized it would need 
to be carefully guarded lest the fairies should spirit it away before the 
ecclesiastical baptism took place, when their power over it ceased. The lay 
baptism also ensured that in the event of death the child should be buried in 
consecrated ground. 

Thou Being who inliabitest the heights 
Imprint Tliy blessing betimes, 
Remember Thou the child of my body. 
In Name of the Father of peace ; 
When the priest of the King- 
On him puts the water of meaning, 
Grant him the blessing of the Three 
Who fill the heights. 
The blessing of the Three 
Who fill the heights. 

Sprinkle down upon him Thy grace. 

Give Thou to him virtue and growth, 

Give Thou to him strength and guidance, 

Give Thou to him flocks and possessions, 

Sense and reason void of guile. 

Angel wisdom in his day. 

That he may stand without reproach 

In Thy presence. 
He may stand without reproach 

In Thy presence. 



116 



ACHAINE 



AN TREORAICH ANAMA 



[51] 



Death blessings vary in words but not in spirit. These death blessings are 
known by various names, as : ' Beannachadh Bais,' Death Blessing, ' Treoraich 
Anama,' Soul Leading, ' Fois Anama,' Soul Peace, and other names familiar to 
the people. 

The soul peace is intoned, not necessarily by a cleric, over the dying, and the 
man or the woman who says it is called ' anam-chara,' soul-friend. He or she 
is held in special affection by the friends of the dying person ever after. The 
soul peace is slowly sung — all present earnestly joining the soul-friend in 
beseeching the Three Persons of the Godhead and all the saints of heaven to 
receive the departing soul of earth. During the prayer the soul-friend makes 
the sign of the cross with the right thumb over the lips of the dying. 

The scene is touching and striking in the extreme, and the man or woman is 
not to be envied who could witness unmoved the distress of these lovable people 
of the West taking leave of those who are near and dear to them in their 
pilgrimage, as they say, of crossing 'abhuinn dubh a bhais ' — the black river of 

death ; ' cuan mor na duibhre ' — the great ocean of darkness ; 

and * beanntaibh na bith-bhuantachd ' — the mountains of eternity. 

The scene may be in a lowly cot begrimed with smoke and 

N t-anam-s' air do laimh, a Chriosda, 
A Righ na Cathrach Neomh. 

Amen. 
Bho is tus, a Chriosd, a cheannaich an t-anam-s", 
Biodh a shith air do theannal fein. 

Amen. 
Is biodh Micheal mil, ard righ nan aingeal, 
A reiteach an rathaid romh 'n anam-s', a Dhe. 

Amen. 
O Micheal mil an sith riut, anaim. 
Is a reiteach dhuit rathaid gu flathas Mhic De. 

Amen. 




INVOCATIONS 117 



THE SOUL LEADING 

black with age, but the heart is not less warm, the tear is not less bitter, and 
the parting is not less distressful, than in the court of the noble or in the palace 
of royalty. 

' Nowhere beats the heart so kindly 
As beneath the tartan plaid.' — Ayton. 

According to the old people : — 

' Duair a bheir an duine suas an ospag chithear an t-anara air cleas meall 
soluis ag eirigh a suas anns na neoil. Thcircar an uair sin : — 
Tha 'n t-anara truagh a nis fo sgaoil 
An taobh a muigh dh' an chaim ; 
A Chriosd chaoimh nam beannachd saor 
Cuartaich mo ghaol 'na aim.' 
When a person gives up the ghost the soul is seen ascending Hke a bright 
ball of light into the clouds. Then it is said : — 

The poor soul is now set free 
Outside the soul-shrine ; 
O kindly Christ of the free blessings, 
Encompass Thou my love in time. 

Be this soul on Thine arm, Christ, 
Thou King of the City of Heaven. 

Amen. 
Since Thou, O Christ, it was who bought'st this soul. 
Be its peace on Thine own keeping. 

Amen. 

And may the strong Michael, high king of the angels, 
Be preparing the path before this soul, O God. 

Amen. 
Oh ! the strong Michael in peace with thee, soul, 
And preparing for thee the way to the kingdom of the Son 
of God. 

Amen. 



118 



ACHAINE 




AM BEANNACHADH BATS 



[52] 



HIA, na diobair a bhean a d'' nihuinntireas, [fear 
Agus a liuth olc a rinn a corp, 
Nach urr i nochd a chunntaclias ; 
A liuth olc a rinn a corp, 
Nach urr i nochd a chunntaclias. 

An t-anani-s' air do laimh, a Chriosda, 

A Righ na Cathrach Neomh. 
Bho's tu, a Chriosda, cheannaich an t-anam, 
An am tomhas na meidhe, 
An am tobhar na breithe, 
Biodh e nis air do dheas laimh fein, 
O air do dheas laimh fein, 



Is biodh Naomh Micheal, righ nan aingeal. 

Tighinn an codhail an anama. 

Is ga threorachadh dachaidh 

Gu flathas Mhic De. 

Naomh Micheal, ard righ nan aingeal, 
Tighinn an codhail an anama. 
Is ga threorachadh dachaidh 
Gu flathas Mhic De. 



INVOCATIONS 119 



THE DEATH BLESSING 

God, omit not this woman from Thy covenant, [man 

And the many evils which she in the body committed, 
That she cannot this night enumerate. 

The many evils that she in the body committed. 

That she cannot this night enumerate. 

Be this soul on Thine own arm, O Christ, 
Thou King of the City of Heaven, 
And since Thine it was, O Christ, to buy the soul, 
At the time of the balancing of the beam, 
At the time of the bringing in the judgment. 
Be it now on Thine own right hand. 
Oh ! on Thine own right hand. 

And be the holy Michael, king of angels, 

Coming to meet the soul. 

And leading it home 

To the heaven of the Son of God. 

The Holy Michael, high king of angels, 

Coming to meet the soul, 

And leading it home 

To the heaven of the Son of God. 



120 ACHAINE 



FOIS ANAMA I 

^v,^ 'S tus a Cliriosd a cheannaich an t-anam- 
'•7/Ai\ 1^' ^'"'^ dioladh na beatha, 
i^-'.lU Ri linn bruchdadh na falluis, 
SjJi^lE' Ri linn iobar na creadha, 
v\-\\vl|| Ri linn dortadh na fala, 
'JjtJ/l Ri linn cothrom na meidhe, 
^^ Ri linn sgathadh na h-anal, 
Ri linn tabhar na breithe, 
Biodh a shith air do theannal fein ; 
losa Criosda Mhic Moire mine, 
Biodh a shith air do theannal fein, 
O los ! air do theannal fein. 

Is bitheadh Micheal geal caomh, 
Ard righ nan aingeal naomh. 
An cinnseal an anania ghaoil, 
Ga dhion dh'an Triu barra-chaon, 
O ! dh'aii Triu barra-chaon. 



INVOCATIONS 121 



SOUL PEACE 

Since Thou Christ it was who didst buy the soul — 
At the time of yielding the life, 
At the time of pouring the sweat. 
At the time of offering the clay, 
At the time of shedding the blood. 
At the time of balancing the beam. 
At the time of severing the breath. 
At the time of delivering the judgment, 
Be its peace upon Thine own ingathering ; 
Jesus Christ Son of gentle Mary, 
Be its peace upon Thine own ingathering, 
O Jesus ! upon Thine own ingathering. 

And may Michael white kindly, 
High king of the holy angels, 
Take possession of the beloved soul. 
And shield it home to the Three of surpassing love. 
Oh ! to the Three of surpassing love. 



122 



ACHAINE 



A GHEALACH UR 



M 



This little prayer is said by old men and women in the islands of Barra. When 
they first see the new moon they make their obeisance to it as to a great chief. 
The women curtsey gracefully and the men bow low, raising their bonnets 
reverently. The bow of the men is peculiar, partaking somewhat of the curtsey 
of the women, the left knee being bent and the right drawn forward towards 
the middle of the left leg in a curious but not inelegant manner. 

The fragment of moon-worship is now a ra.itter of custom rather than of 
belief, although it exists over the whole British Isles. 




N ainm Spiorad Naonih nan gras, 
An ainm Athar na Cathrach aigh. 
An ainm losa thug dhinn am bas, 
O ! an ainm na Tri tha d' ar dion 's gach cas, 
Ma's math a fhuair thu sinn an nochd, 
Seachd fearr gum fag thu sinn gun loehd, 
A Ghealach gheal nan trath, 
A Ghealach gheal nan trath. 



The following versification is by Mr John Henry Dixon, Inveran ; 

In name of the Father .(Vlmighty, 
In name of the Glorious Son, 
In name of the Holy Spirit, 
By grace of the Three-in-One. 

If to-night, O moon, thou hast found us 
In peaceful, happy rest. 



INVOCATIONS 123 



THE NEW INIOON 

In Cornwall the people nod to the new moon and turn silver in their pockets. 
In Edinburgh cultured men and women turn the rings on their fingers and 
make their wishes. A young English lady told the writer that she had always 
been in the habit of bowing to the new moon, till she had been bribed out of it 
by her father, a clergyman, putting money in her pocket lest her lunar worship 
should compromise him with his bishop. She naively confessed, however, that 
among the free mountains of Loch Etive she reverted to the good customs of 
her fathers, from which she derived great satisfaction ! 

In name of the Holy Spirit of grace, 

In name of the Father of the City of peace, 

In name of Jesus who took death off' us, 

Oh I in name of the Three who shield us in every need, 

If well thou hast found us to-night. 

Seven times better maycst thou leave us without harm. 

Thou bright white Moon of the seasons. 

Bright white Moon of the seasons. 



May thy laving lustre leave us 
Seven times still more blest. 

O moon so fair. 
May it be so. 
As seasons come. 
And seasons go. 



11 




AIMSIRE 

SEASONS 




126 



AIMSIRE 



NUALL NOLLAIG 



[55] 



Christsias chants were numerous and their recital common througliout Scotland. 
They are now disappearing with the customs they accompanied. Where they 
still linger their recital is relegated to boys. Formerly on Christmas Eve bands 
of young men went about from house to house and from townland to townland 
chanting Christmas songs. The band was called 'goisearan,' guisers, ' fir- 
duan,' song men, 'gillean Nollaig,' Christmas lads, ' nuaUairean,' rejoicers, and 
other names. The ' rejoicers ' wore long white shirts for surplices, and very tall 
white hats for mitres, in which they made a picturesque ajipearance as they 
moved along singing their loudest. Sometimes they went about as one band, 
sometimes in sections of twos and threes. When they entered a dwelling they 
took possession of a child, if there was one in the house. In the absence of 
a child, a lay figure was improvised. The child was called ' Crist, Cristean ' — 
Christ, Little Christ. The assumed Christ was placed on a skin, and carried 
three times round the fire, sunwise, by the ' ceannsnaodh ' — head of the band, 
the song men singing the Christmas Hail. The skin on which the symbolic 
Christ was carried was that of a white male lamb without spot or blemish and 
consecrated to this service. The skin was called ' uilim.' Homage and offerings 
and much rejoicing were made to the symbolic Christ. The people of the house 
gave the guisers bread, butter, crowdie, and other eatables, on which they 
afterwards feasted. 

The three poems which follow were taken down from Angus 
Gunn, Ness, Lewis, then over eighty-four years of age. Angus 
Gunn had been a strong man physically and was still a strong 
man mentally. He had lived for many years in the island of 
North Roney, and gave a graphic description of it, and of his Ufe 
there. He had much oral lore which he told with great 

O Ri, ho Ri, 

Beannaicht e, beannaicht e, 

Ho Ri, ho Ri, 
Beannaicht e, thainig 's an am. 

Ho Ri, ho Ri, 
Beannaicht an tigh 's na bheil ann, 

Ho Ri, ho Ri, 
Eadai>chuall, is chlach, is chrann. 

Ho Ri, ho Ri, 
lomair do Dhia, eadar bhrat is aodach. 




SEASONS 127 



CHRISTMAS HAIL 

dramatic power. The following tale is one of those related by him: — ' Ronan 
came to Lewis to convert the people to the Christian faith. He built himself a 
prayer-house at Eorabay. But the people were bad and they would not give him 
peace. The men quarrelled about everything, and the women quarrelled about 
nothing, and Ronan was distressed and could not say his prayers for their clamour. 
He prayed to be removed from the people of Eorabay, and immediately an angel 
came and told him to go down to the " lairairig," natural landing-rock, where the 
" cionaran-cro," cragen was waiting him. Ronan arose and hurried down to the 
sea-shore shaking the dust of Eorabay off his feet, and taking nothing but his 
" pollaire," satchel, containing the Book, on his breast. And there, stretched 
along the rock, was the great " cionaran-cro," his great eyes shining like two 
stars of night. Ronan sat on the back of the "cionaran-cro," and it flew with 
him over the sea, usually wild as the mountains, now smooth as the plains, and 
in the twinkhng of two eyes reached the remote isle of the ocean. Ronan landed 
on the island, and that was the land full of " nathair bheumnaich, gribh inioh, 
nathair nimhe, agus Icomhain bheucaich" — biting adders, taloned griffins, 
poisonous snakes, and roaring lions. All the beasts of the island fled before the 
holy Ronan and rushed backwards over the rocks into the sea. And that is how 
the rocks of the island of Roney are grooved and scratched and lined with the 
claws and the nails of the unholy creatures. The good Ronan built himself a 
prayer-house in the island where he could say his prayers in peace. ' 

Roney is a small, precipitous island in the North Atlantic, sixty miles from the 
Butt of Lewis and sixty miles from Cape Wrath, forming the apex of a triangle 
between the two promontories. It is inaccessible except in a smooth sea, which 
is rare there. The rocks of Roney are much striated. The island is now 
uninhabited. St Ronan lived in the end of the seventh century. 

Hail to the King, hail to the King, 
Blessed is He, blessed is He, 

Hail to the King, hail to the King, 
Blessed is He who has come betimes. 

Hail to the King, hail to the King, 
Blessed be the house and all therein. 

Hail to the King, hail to the King, 
'Twixt stock and stone and stave. 

Hail to the King, hail to the King, 
Consign it to God from corslet to cover, 



128 AIMSIRE 

Slainte dhaoine gun robh ann, 

Ho Ri, ho Hi, 
Beannaicht e, beannaicht e, 

Ho Ri, ho Ri, 
Beannaicht e, beannaicht e, 

Ho Ri, ho Ri, 
Gum bu buan mu^n tulach sibh, 

Ho Ri, ho Ri, 
Gum bu slan mu'n teallach sibh, 

Ho Ri, ho Ri, 
Gum bu liuth crann 's an tigh, 
Daoine tamh 's a' bhunntair, 

Ho Ri, ho Ri, 
Beannaicht e, beannaicht e, 

Ho Ri, ho Ri, 
Beannaicht e, beannaicht e. 

Ho Ri, ho Ri, 
Nochd oichdhe NoUaige moire. 

Ho Ri, ho Ri, 
Beannaicht e, beannaicht e, 

Ho Ri, ho Ri, 
Rugadh Mac na Moir Oighe, 

Ho Ri, ho Ri, 
Beannaicht e, beannaicht e, 

Ho Ri, ho Ri, 
Rainig a bhonnaibh an lar, 

Ho Ri, ho Ri, 
Beannaicht e, beannaicht e, 

Ho Ri, ho Ri, 
Shoillsich grian nam beann ard, 

Ho Ri, ho Ri, 
Beannaicht e, beannaicht e. 



SEASONS 129 

Be the health of men therein, 

Hail to the King, hail to the King, 
Blessed is He, blessed is He, 

Hail to the King, hail to the King, 
Blessed is He, blessed is He, 

Hail to the King, hail to the King, 
Lasting round the house be ye. 

Hail to the King, hail to the King, 
Healthy round the hearth be ye. 

Hail to the King, hail to the King, 
i\Iany be the stakes in the house, 
And men dwelling on the foundation. 

Hail to the King, hail to the King, 
Blessed is He, blessed is He, 

Hail to the King, hail to the King, 
Blessed is He, blessed is He. 

Hail to the King, hail to the King, 
This night is the eve of the great Nativity, 

Hail to the King, hail to the King, 
Blessed is He, blessed is He, 

Hail to the King, hail to the King, 
Born is the Son of Mary the Virgin, 

Hail to the King, hail to the King, 
Blessed is He, blessed is He, 

Hail to the King, hail to the King, 
The soles of His feet have reached the earth, 

Hail to the King, hail to the King, 
Blessed is He, blessed is He, 

Hail to the King, hail to the King, 
Illumined the sun the mountains high, 

Hail to the King, hail to the King, 
Blessed is He, blessed is He. 



130 



AIMSIRE 



Shoillsich fearann, shoillsich fonn, 

Ho Ri, ho Ri, 
Beannaicht e, beaniiaicht e, 

Ho Ri, ho Ri, 
Chualas an tonn air an traigh, 

Ho Ri, ho Ri, 
Beannaicht e, beannaicht e, 
Beannaicht e, beannaicht e, 

Ho Ri, ho Ri, 
Beannaicht an Righ, 
Gun tus, gun chrich, 
Gu suthainn, gu sior, 
Gach linn gu brath. 



SEASONS 131 

Shone the earth, shone the land, 

Hail to the King, hail to the King, 
Blessed is He, blesssd is He, 

Hail to the King, hail to the King, 
Heard was the wave upon the strand, 

Hail to the King, hail to the King, 
Blessed is He, blessed is He, 
Blessed is He, blessed is He, 

Hail to the King, hail to the King, 
Blessed the King, 
Without beginning, without end. 
To everlasting, to eternity. 
To all ages, to all time. 



132 



AIMSIRE 




DUAN NOLLAIG 



[56] 



OIRE ! hoire ! beannaicht e ! beannaicht e ! 
Hoire ! hoire ! beannaicht e ! beannaicht e ! 
Hoire ! hoire ! beannaicht e'n Righ dh' am bi sinn 
Ho ! ro ! biodh aoibh ! [a' seinn, 

Nochd oidhche Nollaige moire, 
Rugadh Mac na Moir Oighe, 
) Rainig a bhonnaibh an lar, 
Mac nam buadh a nuas o'n ard, 
Dheah'aich neanih is cruinne dha. 
Ho ! ro ! biodh aoibh ! 

Seinih saoghal dha, sona neamh dha, 
Feuch rainig a bhonn an lar, 
Fodhail Righ dha, failt Uain dha, 
Righ nam buadh, Uan nan agh, 
Shoillsich cluan agus cuanta dha, 
Ho ! ro ! biodh aoibh ! 

Shoillsich frith dha, shoillsich fonn dha, 
Nuall nan tonn le fonn nan tragh, 
Ag innse dhuinne gun d' rugadh Criosda 
Mac Righ nan righ a tir na slaint ; 
Shoillsich grian nam beannaibh ard dha. 
Ho ! ro ! biodh aoibh ! 

Shoillsich ce dha is cruinne comhla, 
Dh' f hosgail De an Domhnaich Dorus ; 
A Mhic Mhuir Oighe greas ga'm chomhnadh, 
A Chriosd an dochais, a Chomhla 'n t-sonais, 
Oradh Ghreine shleibh is mhonaidh. 
Ho ! ro ! biodh aoibh ! 



SEASONS 133 



CHRISTMAS CAROL 

H^\iL King ! hail King I blessed is He ! blessed is He ! 
Hail King ! hail King ! blessed is He ! blessed is He ! 
Hail King ! hail King ! blessed is He, the King of whom we sing. 
All hail ! let there be joy ! 

This night is the eve of the great Nativity, 
Born is the Son of Mary the Virgin, 
The soles of His feet have reached the earth. 
The Son of glory down from on high, 
Heaven and earth glowed to Him, 
All hail ! let there be joy ! 

The peace of earth to Him, the joy of heaven to Him, 

Behold His feet have reached the world ; 

The homage of a King be His, the welcome of a Lamb be His, 

King all victorious, Lamb all glorious. 

Earth and ocean illumed to Him, 

All hail ! let there be joy ! 

The mountains glowed to Him, the plains glowed to Him, 
The voice of the waves with the song of the strand. 
Announcing to us that Christ is born. 
Son of the King of kings from the land of salvation ; 
Shone the sun on the mountains high to Him, 
All hail ! let there be joy ! 

Shone to Him the earth and sphere together, 
God the Lord has opened a Door ; 
Son of Mary Virgin, hasten Thou to help me, 
Thou Christ of hope. Thou Door of joy. 
Golden Sun of hill and mountain, 

All hail ! let there be joy ! 

12 



134 AIMSIRE 




DUAN NOLLAIG [57] 

OIRE ! hoire ! beannaicht e ! beannaicht e ! 
Hoire ! hoire ! beannaicht e ! beannaicht e ! 
Ho ! hi ! beannaicht an Righ ! 
Ho ! hi ! biodh aoibh. 

Buaidh biodh air an tulaich seo, 
Na chualas leibh 's na chunnas leibh, 
Air na leaca loma loinnear ]air, 
"■S air na clacha corrach cuimir clair, 

Hoire ! hoire ! beannaicht e ! beannaicht e ! 



Beannaich an taigh 's na bheil ann, 
Eadar chuaill is chlach is chrann ; 
Imir do Dhia eadar bhrat is aodach, 
Slainte dhaoine gun robh ann, 

Hoire ! hoire ! beannaicht e ! beannaicht e ! 

Gu mu buan mu'n tulach sibh, 

Gu mu slan mu^n teallach sibh, 

Gu mu huth dul *s ceann sguilb 's an aros, 

Uaoine tamh 's a bhunntair, 

Hoire ! hoire ! beannaicht e ! beannaicht e ! 



SEASONS 135 



CHRISTMAS CHANT 

Hail King ! hail King ! blessed is He ! blessed is He ! 
Hail King ! hail King ! blessed is He ! blessed is He ! 

Ho, hail ! blessed the King ! 

Ho, hi ! let there be joy ! 

Prosperity be upon this dwelling. 
On all that ye have heard and seen, 
On the bare bright floor flags. 
On the shapely standing stone staves, 

Hail King ! hail King ! blessed is He ! blessed is He ! 

Bless this house and all that it contains, 
From rafter and stone and beam ; 
Deliver it to God from pall to cover. 
Be the healing of men therein, 

Hail King ! hail King ! blessed is He ! blessed is He ! 

Be ye in lasting possession of the house, 

Be ye healthy about the hearth, 

Many be the ties and stakes in the homestead. 

People dwelling on this foundation. 

Hail King ! hail King ! blessed is He ! blessed is He ! 



136 AIMSIRE 

lobair dh 'an Ti eadar bhonn agus bhrat, 
Eadar chuaill agus chlach agus chrann ; 
lobair a ris eadar shlat agus aodach, 
Slanadh shaoghal a dhaoine th' ann, 

Hoire ! hoire ! beannaicht e ! beannaicht e ! 
Hoire ! hoire ! beannaicht e ! beannaicht e ! 
Ho, hi, beannaicht an Righ, 
Ho, hi, biodh aoibh ! 

Beannaicht an Righ, 
Gun tus gun chrich, 
Gu suth, gu sior, 
Gach linn gu brath. 

Ho ! hi ! biodh aoibh ! 



SEASONS 137 

Offer to the Being from found to cover, 
Include stave and stone and beam ; 
Offer again both rods and cloth, 
Be health to the people therein. 

Hail King ! hail King ! blessed is He ! blessed is He ! 
Hail King ! hail King ! blessed is He ! blessed is He ! 
Ho, hail ! blessed the King ! 
Let there be joy ! 

Blessed the King, 

Without beginning, without ending. 

To everlasting, to eternity. 

Every generation for aye. 

Ho ! hi ! let there be joy ! 



138 



AIMSIRE 



HEIRE BANNAG 



[58] 




Thkse carols were sung by a band of men who went about from 
house to house in the townland. The band selected a leader for 
their singing and for their actions throughout the night. This 
leader was called ' fear-duan,' song-man, and the others were 

EIRE Bannag, hoire Baniiag, 
Heire Bannag, air a bheo. 

Chaidh Muire nihin gheal air a glun, 
Is c High nan dul a blia 'na h-uclid. 

?^ Taobli an t-sorcain, taobh an t-searcain, 
Buailtear boicionn air an spar. 

'G innse duinn gun do rugadh Criosd, 
Righ nan righ, a tir na slaint. 



Chi mi tulach, ehi mi traigh, 
Chi mi ullaim air an t-snamh. 



Chi mi ainghlean air an luinn, 
Tio-hinn le cimh is cairdeas duinn. 



SEASONS 139 



HEY THE GIFT 

called ' fir-fuinn," chonis-men. When they had sung their carols at a house, two 
or three bannocks were handed out to them through a window. 

The song-man got half of every bannock so received, and the other half went 
to the chorus-raen. 

Hey the Gift, ho the Gift, 
Hey the Gift on the living. 

The ffiir Mary went upon her knee. 

It was the King of glory who was on her breast. 

The side of the sack (?) the side of the sark (.'') 
The hide is struck upon the spar. 

To tell to us that Christ is born, 

The King of kings of the land of salvation. 

I see the hills, I see the strand, 
I see the host upon the wing. 

I see angels on clouds, [waves 

Coming with speech and friendship to us. 



140 AIMSIRE 



HEIRE BANNAG, IIOIllE BANNAG [59] 

EIRE Bannag, hoire Bannag, 
Heire Bannag, air a bheo. 

Mac na niula, Mac. na neula, 
Mac na runna, Mac na reula, 
Heire Bannag, etc. 

Mac na dile, Mac na deire, 
Mac na spire, Mac na speura, 
Heire Bannag, etc. 

Mac na lasa, Mac na leusa, 
Mac na cruinne, Mac na ce, 
Heire Bannag, etc. 

Mac nan dula, Mac nan neamha, 
Mac na gile, Mac na greine, 
Heire Bannag, etc. 

Mac Moire na De-meine, 
Is Mac De tiis gach sgeula, 
Heire Bannag, etc. 




SEASONS 141 



HEY THE GIFT, HO THE GIFT 

Hey the Gift, ho the Gift, 
Hey the Gift, on the living. 

Sou of the dawn, Son of the clouds. 
Son of the planet. Son of the star. 
Hey the Gift, etc. 

Sou of the rain. Sou of tiie dew. 
Son of the welkin, Sou of the sk}'. 
Hey the Gift, etc. 

Son of the flame. Son of the light. 
Son of the sphere, Son of the globe. 
Hey the Gift, etc. 

Son of the elements, Son of the heavens. 
Son of the moon. Son of the sun, 
Hev the Gift, etc. 

Son of Mary of the God-miud, 
And the Son of God first of all news, 
Hey the Gift, etc. 



142 AIMSIRE 




BANNAG NAM BUADH [6o] 

S mise Bannag, is mise Bochd, 
Is mise Fear na h-oidhclie nochd. 

Is mise Mac De anns an dorus, 
Di-luain air thuaradh nam bannag. 

Is uasal Bride mhin-gheal air a glun. 
Is uasal Righ nan dul 'na h-uchd. 

Mac na gile, Mac na greine, 
Mac Moire mor na De-meine, 

Crois air gach guala dheis, 
Mis is dorus, fosgail thusa. 

Is leir 'omh tulach, is leir 'omh traigh. 
Is leir 'omh ainghlean tighinn air snamh. 

Is leir 'onih calaman, cuimir, caon, 
Tiehinn le caomh is cairdeas duinn. 



SEASONS 143 



THE GIFT OF POWER 

I AM the Gift, I am the Poor, 
I am the Man of this night. 

I am the Son of God in the door. 
On Monday seeking the gifts. 

Noble is Bride the gentle fair on her knee, 
Noble the King of glory on her breast. 

Son of the moon. Son of the sun. 
Great Son of Mary of God-like mind. 

A cross on each right shoulder, 
I am in the door, o])en thou. 

I see the hills, I see the strand, 
I see angels heralding on high. 

I see the dove shapely, benign. 

Coming with kindness and friendship to us. 




144 AIMSIRE 



AN OIGH AGUS AN LEANABH [ei] 

HUNNACAS an Oigh a teachd, 
Criosda gu h-og 'na li-uchd. 

A Mhoir Oighe, agus a Mhic, 
Eeannaich an taigh agus a luchd. 

Beannaich am biadh, beannaich am bord, 
Beannaich an dias, an triall 's an stor. 

An trath bha oirnn an raithe gann. 
Is tu fein, Oighe, bu mhathair dhuinn. 

Is gil thu na ghealach earra-gheal 
Ag eirigh air an tulaich. 

Is gil thu na ghrian cheit-ghil, 
Fo eibhneas subhach. 

Bho nach faod am bard fuireach, 
Cuiribh uilim 's a bhalg le beannachd. 

Mise gille Mhic De an cois an doruis, 
A uchd De, eirich fein is fosgail domh e. 



SEASONS 145 



THE VIRGIN AND CHILD 

Bkiiold the Virgin approaching, 
Christ so young on her breast. 

O Mary Virgin ! and O Holy Son ! 
Bless ye the house and all therein. 

Bless ye the food, bless ye the board. 
Bless ye the corn, the flock and the store. 

What time to us the quarter was scarce, 

It is thou thyself. Virgin, who wast mother to us. 

Thou art brighter than the waxing moon 
Rising over the mountains. 

Thou art brighter than the summer sun, 
Under his fullness of joy. 

Since the bard must not tarry. 

Place ye alms in the bag with a blessing. 

Servant am I of God the Son on the threshold, 
For the sake of God, arise thyself and open to me. 



146 



AIMSIRE 



RUGADH BUACHAILLE NAN TREUD [62] 




lUHCHE sin a dhealraich an reult, 
Rugadh Buachaille nan trend, 
Le Oigli nan ceudaibh beus, 
Moire Mhathar. 

An Trianaid shiorruidh r'a taobh, 
Ann am frasach fuar, faoin. 
Thig 's thoir deachamh de d' mhaoin, 
Dh' an t-Slan-Fhear. 



An cobhrach, ciochrach, caomh, 
Gun aon dachaidh fo "n t-saogha], 
Am Fogaran naomha, maoth, 
"Manul ! 

A thri ainglibh nam buadh, 
Thigibh, thigibh a nuas ; 
Do Chriosd an t-sluaigh 
Thugaibh failte. 



Pogaibh a bhasa, 
Tioraniaichibh a chasa 
Le fait bhur cinn ; 
'S O ! Thi na cruinne, 
'S losa, Mhicheil, Mhuire, 
Na fagaibh sinn. 



SEASONS 147 



THE SHEPHERD OF THE FLOCK 
WAS BORN 

That night the star shone 
Was born the Shepherd of the Flock, 
Of the Virgin of the hundred charms, 
The Mary Mother. 

Tlie Trinity eternal by her side, 
In the manger cold and lowly. 
Come and give tithes of thy means 
To the Healing Man. 

The foam-white breastling beloved, 
Without one home in the world. 
The tender holy Babe forth driven, 
Immanuel ! 

Ye three angels of power. 
Come ye, come ye down ; 
To the Christ of the people 
Give ye salutation. 

Kiss ye His hands, 
Dry ye His feet 
With the hair of your heads ; 
And O ! Thou world-pervading God, 
And Ye, Jesu, Michael, Mary, 
Do not Ye forsake us. 



148 



AIMSIRE 



CALLUINN A BHUILG 



[63] 



Cali.uinen Ho ! — This rune is still repeated in the Isles. Rarely, however, do 
two persons recite it alike. This renders it difiBcult to decide the right form of 
the words. 

The walls of the old houses in the West are very thick — from five to eight 
feet. There are no gables, the walls being of uniform height throughout. The 
roof of the house being raised from the inner edge of the wall, a broad terrace 
is left on the outside. Two or three stones project from the walJ at the door, 
forming steps. On these the inmates ascend for purposes of thatching and 
securing the roof in time of storm. 

ALLUINN a bhuilg, 
Calluinn a bhuilg, 

Buail am boicionn, 

Buail am boicionn. 
Calluinn a bhuilg, 
Calluinn a bhuilg, 

Buail an craicionn, 

Buail an craicionn. 
Calluinn a bhuilg, 
Calluinn a bhuilg, 

Sios e I suas e ! 

Buail am boicionn. 
Calluinn a bhuilg, 
Calluinn a bhuilg, 

Sios e ! suas e ! 

Buail an craicionn. 
Calluinn a bhuilg, 
Calluinn a bhuilff. 




I 



SEASONS 149 



HOGMANAY OF THE SACK 

The ' gillcan Callaig ' carollers or Hogmanay lads perambulate the townland at 
night. One man is enveloped in the hard hide of a bull with tlie horns and hoofs 
still attached. When the men come to a house they ascend the wall and run round 
sunwise, the man in the hide shaking the horns and hoofs, and the other men strik- 
ing the hard hide with sticks. The appearance of the man in the hide is grue- 
some, while the din made is terrific. Having descended and recited their runes 
at the door, the Hogmanay men are admitted and treated to the best in the house. 

The performance seems to be symbolic, but of what it is not easy to say, 
unless of laying an evil spirit. That the rite is heathen and ancient is evident. 

Hogmanay of the sack, 
Hogmanay of the sack, 

Strike tlie hide, 

Strike the hide. 
Hogmanay of the sack, 
Hogmanay of the sack, 

Heat the skin, 

Heat the skin. 
Hogmanay of the sack, 
Hogmanay of the sack, 

Down with it! up with it! 

Strike the hide. 
Hogmanay of the sack, 
Hogmanay of the sack, 

Down with it ! up witli it ! 

Beat the skin. 
Hogmanay of the sack, 
Hogmanay of the sack. 



150 



AIMSIRE 




CAIRIOLL CALLAIG 

IS tha mis air tighinn dh' ur duthaich 
A dh' urachadh dhuibh na Callaig ; 
Cha leig mi leas a dhol ga innse, 
Bha i aim ri linn ar seanar. 

Dirim ris an ardorus, 
Teurnam ris an starsach, 
Mo dhuan a ghabhail doigheil, 
Modhail, moineil, maineil. 

Caisean Callaig ''na mo phoca, 
Is mor an ceo tliig as an ealachd. 



[64] 



Gheibh fear an taiglie 'na dhorn e, 
Cuiridh e shron anns an teallach ; 
Theid e deiseil air na paisdean, 
Seachd ar air bean an taighe. 

Bean an taighe is i is fhiach e. 
Lamb a riarach oirnn na Callaig, 
Sochair bheag a bhlath an t-samhraidh, 
Tha mi 'n geall air leis an arain. 



Tabhair duinn ma dh' fhaodas, 
Mar a faod na cum maill oirnn, 
Mise gille Mhic De 's an dorus, 
Eirich fein is fosgail domh e. 



SEASONS 151 



HOGMANAY CAROL 

I AM now come to your country, 
To renew to you the Hogmanay, 
I need not tell you of it, 
It was in the time of our forefathers. 

I ascend by the door lintel, 
I descend by the doorstep, 
I will sing my song becomingly, 
Mannerly, slowly, mindfully. 

The Hogmanay skin is in my pocket. 
Great will be the smoke from it presently. 



The house-man will get it in his hand, 
He will place its nose in the fire ; 
He will go sunwards round the babes. 
And for seven verities round the housewife. 

The housewife it is she who deserves it. 
The hand to dispense to us the Hogmanay, 
A small gift of the bloom of summer, 
Much I wish it with the bread. 

Give it to us if it be possible. 

If you may not, do not detain us ; 

I am the servant of God's Son at tlie door, 

Arise thyself and open to me. 



152 



AIMSIRE 




DUAN CALLAIG 

1ST o thaine sinn dh' an duthaich, 
Dh' urachadh dhuibh na Callaig, 
» Cha ruig uine dhuinn bhi 'g innse, 
Bha i anil ri linn ar seanar. 



A direadh ri tobht an taighe, 

A teurnadh aig an dorus, 

Mo dlnian a ghabhail niodliail. 

Mar b' eol domh aig a Challaig. 



Caisein Callaig 'na mo phocaid. 
Is mor an ceo thig as an fhear ud, 
Chan 'eil aon a gheobh de aile, 
Nach bi gu brath de fallain. 

Gheobh fear an taighe 'na dhorn e, 
Cuiridh e shron anns an teallach ; 
Theid e deiseil air na paisdean, 

Is seachd araid bean an taisrhe. 



[65] 



Gheobh a bhean e, is i 's t-fliiach e, 
Lamh a riarachadh na Callaig, 
Lamh a bhairig cais is im duinn, 

Lamh gun spiocaireachd, gun ghainne. 



SEASONS 153 



THE SONG OF HOGMANAY 

Now since we came to the country 
To renew to you the Hogmanay, 
Time will not allow us to explain, 

It has been since the age of our fathers. 

Ascending the wall of the house, 
Descending at the door. 
My carol to say modestly. 

As becomes me at the Hogmanay. 

The Hogmanay skin is in my pocket, 
Great the fume that will come from that ; 
No one who shall inhale its odour, 

But shall be for over from it healthy. 

The house-man will get it in his grasp, 

He will put its point in the fire ; 

He will go sunwise round the children. 

And very specially round the goodwife. 

The wife will get it, she it is who deserves it. 

The hand to distribute the Hogmanay, 

The hand to bestow upon us cheese and butter, 

The hand without niggardliness, without meanness. 



154 AIMSIRE 



Bho 'n ta tart air tigliinn an duthaich, 
Is nach bi duil againn ri annas, 
Rud beag a shugh an t-samhraidh, 
E' annsa leinn e leis an aran. 

Mur bheil sin againn ri f haotainn, 
Ma dli'' fhaodas tu, na cum mail! oirnn 
Mise gille Mhic De air Chollaig, 
Eirich fein is fosgail dorus. 
Callain seo ! Callain seo ! 



SEASONS 155 

Since drought has come upon the land. 
And that we do not expect rarity, 
A little of the substance of the summer. 
Would we desire with the bread. 

If that we are not to have it. 
If thou mayest, do not detain us ; 
I am the servant of God''s Son on Hogmunay, 
Arise thyself and open the door. 

Hogmanay here ! Hogmanay here ! 



156 



AIMSIRE 



OIDHCHE CHALLAIG 



[66] 




HAINE sinne chon an doruis, 
Feuch am feairrde siiin an turas, 
Dh' innis a mhnathan coir a bhaile, 
Gur e maireach La Cullaig. 

After being entertained the guisers go sunwise 

Gum beannaicheadh Dia an t-ardrach, 
Eadar chlach, is chuaille, is chrann, 
Eadar bhithe, bhliochd, is aodach, 
Slainte dhaoin bhi daonnan ann. 

Should the guisers be inhospitably treated, they file round the fire withcrshins 
and walk out, and raise a cairn in or near the door, called ' carnan mollachd,' 
cairn of malison, ' carnan cronachd,' scaith cairn. 

Mallachd Dhc is Challaig oirbh, 
'S cronachd chlaimhein chiuchaich, 
Fioinn, fitliich agus fiolair, 
'S cronachd sionnaich liugaich. 



Cronachd chon is chat oirbh, 
Thorc is bhroc is bhrugha, 
Mhaghain mais 's mhadaidh-alla, 
'S cronachd thaghain tutaidh. 



SEASONS 157 



HOGMANAY 



We are come to the door, 

To see if we be the better of our visit. 

To tell the generous women of the townland 

That to-morrow is Calendae Day. 

round the fire singing- 
May God bless the dwelling. 
Each stone, and beam, and stave, 
All food, and drink, and clothing, 
May health of men be always there. 

They tramp loudly, shaking the dust of the place off their feet, and intoning 
with a deep voice the following and other maledictions — 

The malison of God and of Hogmanay be on you. 
And the scath of the plaintive buzzard. 
Of the hen-harrier, of the raven, of the eagle, 
And the scath of the sneaking fox. 

The scath of the dog and of the cat be on you. 
Of the boar, of the badger, and of the ' brugha,' 
Of the hipped bear and of the wild wolf. 
And the scath of the foul foumart. 



158 



aimsirp: 



BEANNACHADH BLIADHNA UIR [67] 

This poem was repeated the first thing on the first day of the year. It was 




HE, beannaich dhomh an la ur, 

Nach do thuradh dhoinb roiuihe riamh : 
Is ann gu beannachadh do gbnuis, 
Thug thu 'ii uine seo dhomh, a Dhia. 

Beannaich thusa dhomh mo shuil, 
Beannaicheadh mo shuil na chi ; 
Beannaichidh niise mo nabaidh, 
Beannaicheadh mo nabaidh mi. 



Dhe^tabhair dhomh-sa cridhe glan, 
Na leig a seall do shula mi ; 
Beannaich dhomh mo ghin 's mo bhean, 
'S beannaich domh mo nearc 's mo ni. 



SEASONS 159 



THE BLESSING OF THE NEW YEAR 

common throughout the Highlands and Islands. The writer has heard versions 
of it in many places. 

God, bless to me the new day, 
Never vouchsafed to me before ; 
It is to bless Thine own presence 
Thou hast given me this time, O God. 

Bless Thou to me mine eye. 
May mine eye bless all it sees ; 
I will bless my neighbour. 
May my neighbour bless me. 

God, give me a clean heart. 
Let me not from sight of Thine eye ; 
Bless to me my children and my wife, 
And bless to me my means and my cattle. 



160 



AIMSIRE 



CRIOSDA CLEIREACH OS AR CIONN [68] 




RIOSDA Cleireach os ar cioiin, 

Dh' orduich Ti nan dul do gach duil a fann. 
Criosda Cleireach os ar cionn. 

Noclid oidhch a chrochaidh chruaidh, 
Crann cruaidh ris na chrochadh Criosd. 
Criosda Cleireach os ar cionn. 

Is uasal Bannag, is uasal Bochd, 
Is uasal Fear na h-oidhche nochd. 

Criosda Cleireach os ar cionn. 



Is i Bride mhin chaidh air a glun, 
Is e Righ nan dul a ta 'na h-uchd, 

Criosda Cleireach os ar cionn. 

Chluinn mi tulach, chluinn mi traigh, 
Chluinn mi ainghlcan air an t-snamh, 
Criosda Cleireach os ar cionn. 

Chluinn mi Cairbre cuimir, cruinn, 
Tighinn cluimh le cairdeas duinn. 

Criosda Cleireach os ar cionn. 

Is ioma tionailt air an tulaich, 
Gun farmad duine ri cheile. 

Criosda Cleireach os ar cionn. 



Is mise gille Mic De is an dorus, 
Eirich fein is fosgail domh e. 

Criosda Cleireach os ar cioun. 



SEASONS 161 



CHRIST THE PRIEST ABOVE US 

Christ the Prie.st above us, 
Ordained of God for all living. 

Christ the Priest above us. 

To-night, the night of the cross of agony, 
The cross of anguish to which Christ was crucified. 
Christ the Priest above us. 

Noble the Gift ! noble the Poor ! 
Noble the Man of this night. 

Christ the Priest above us. 

It was Bride the fair who went on her knee, 
It is the King of glory who is in her lap. 
Christ the Priest above us. 

I hear the hills, I hear the seas, 
I hear the angels heralding to earth 
Christ the Priest above us. 

I hear Cairbre of the shapely, rounded limbs, 
Coining softly in friendship to us. 
Christ the Priest above us. 

Great the assemblage upon this knoll, 
Without the envy of man to another. 
Christ the Priest above us. 

I am servant of God the Son at the door. 
Oh ! arise thou thyself and open to me. 
Christ the Priest above us. 



162 



AIMSIRE 



LA CHALUIM-CHILLE 



[69] 



DiAttDAOiN, Didaoirn — the clay between the fasts — Thursday, was St Coluraba's 
Day — Diardaoiii Chahiira-chiUe, St Columba's Thursday — and through him the 
day of many important events in the economy of the people. It was a lucky 
day for all enterpi-ises — for warping thread, for beginning a pilgrimage, or any 
other undertaking. On Thursday eve the mother of a family made a here, rye, 
or oaten cake into which she put a small silver coin. The cake was toasted 
before a fire of rowan, yew, oak, or other sacred wood. On the morning of 
Thursday the father took a keen-cutting knife and cut the cake into as many 
sections as there were children in the family, all the sections being equal. All 
the pieces were then placed in a ' ciosan ' — a beehive basket — and each child 
blindfold drew a piece of cake from the basket in name of the Father, Son, 
and Spirit. The child who got the coin got the crop of lambs for the year. 
This was called ' sealbh uan ' — lamb luck. Sometimes it was arranged that the 
person who got the coin got a certain number of the lambs, and the otiiers the 
rest of the lambs among them. Each child had a separate mark, and there was 
much emulation as to who had most lambs, the best lambs, and who took best 
care of the Iambs. 

Maunday Thursday is called in Uist ' Diardaoin a brochain,' 
Gruel Thursday, and in lona ' Diardaoin a brochain mhoir,' 
Great Gruel Thursday. On this day people in maritime districts 

AORN Chalum-chillc chaoiinh 
La chur chaoracli air seilbh, 
I<a chur ba air a laogh, 
La chur aodach an deilbh. 

La chur ehurach air sal, 
La chur gais chon a meirgh. 
La chon breith, la chon bais, 
La chon ardu a sheile;. 




La chur ghearran an eill, 
La chur feudail air raon. 
La chur urnuigh chon feum, 
La m' eiidail an Daorn. 

La m' eudail an Daorn. 



SEASONS 163 



THE DAY OF ST COLUMBA 

made offerings of mead, ale, or gruel to the god of the sea. As the day merged 
from Wednesday to Thursday a man walked to the waist into the sea and poured 
out whatever offering had been prepared, chanting : — 

' A Dhe na mara, O God of the sea, 

Cuir todliar 's an tarruinn Put weed in the drawing wave 

Chon tachair an talainih. To enrich the ground, 

Chon bailcidh dhuinn biaidh.' To shower on us food. 

Those behind the offerer took up tlie chant and wafted it along tlie sea-shore 
on the midnight air, the darkness of night and the rolling of the waves making 
the scene weird and impressive. In 1860 the writer conversed in lona with a 
middle-aged man whose father, when young, had taken part in this ceremony. 
In Lewis the custom was continued till this century. It shows the tolerant spirit 
of the Columban Church and the tenacity of popular belief, that such a practice 
should have been in vogue so recently. 

The only exception to the luck of Thursday was when Beltane fell on that day. 

' 'D uair is Ciadaoineach an t-Sarahain When the Wednesday is Hallowmas 

Is iarganach fir an dorahain. Restless are the men of the universe ; 

Ach 's meirg is mathair dh' an mhac But woe the mother of the fooUsli 

bhaoth son 

'D uair is Daorn dh' an Bhealltain.' When Thursday is the Beltane. 

Thursday of Columba benign. 
Day to send sheep on prosperity. 
Day to send cow on calf, 
Day to put tlie web in the warp. 

Day to put coracle on the brine. 
Day to place the staff to the flag. 
Day to bear, day to die. 
Day to hunt the heights. 

Day to put horses in harness. 
Day to send herds to pasture, 
Day to make prayer efficacious, 
Day of my beloved, the Thursday, 

Day of my beloved, the Thursday. 



164 AIMSIRE 



SLOINNTIREACHD BHRIDE [7o] 

The Genealogy of Bride was current among people who had a latent belief in its 
efGcacy. Other hymns to Bride were sung on her festival, but nothing now 
remains except the names and fragments of the words. The names are curious 
and suggestive, as : ' Ora Bhride,' Praj'er of Bride, ' Lorg Bhride,' Staff of Bride, 
' Luireach Bhride,' Lorica of Bride, ' Lorig Bhride,' Mantle of Bride, ' Brot 
Bhride,' Corslet of Bride, and others. La Feill Bhi-ide, St Bridget's Day, is the 
first of February, new style, or the thirteenth according to the old style, which 
is still much in use in the Highlands. It was a day of great rejoicing and 
jubilation in olden times, and gave rise to innumerable sayings, as : — 

' Feill na Bride, feis na finnc' Feast of the Bride, feast of the maiden. 

' Bride binn nam has ban.' Melodious Bride of the fair palms. 

' A Bhride chaoin cheanail. Thou Bride fair charming. 

Is caoimh liom anail do bheoil. Pleasant to me the breath of thy mouth, 

'D uair reidhinn air m' aineol When I would go among strangers 

Bu tu fein ceann eisdeachd mo sgeoil.' Thou thyself wert the hearer of my tale. 

There are many legends and customs connected with Bride. Some of these 
seem inconsistent with one another, and with the character of the Saint of 
Kildare. These seeming inconsistencies arise from the fact that there were 
several Brides, Christian and pre-Christian, whose personalities have become 
confused in the course of centuries — the attributes of all being now popularly 
ascribed to one. Bride is said to preside over fire, over art, over all beauty, ' fo 
cheabhar agus fo chuan,' beneath the sky and beneath the sea. And man being 
the highest type of ideal beauty. Bride presides at his birth and dedicates him 
to the Trinity. She is the Mary and the Juno of the Gael. She is much spoken 
of in connection with Mary, — generally in relation to the birth of Christ. She 
was the aid-woman of the Mother of Nazareth in the lowly stable, and she is the 
aid-woman of the mothers of Uist in their humble homes. 

It is said that Bride was the daughter of poor pious parents, and the serving- 
maid in the inn of Bethlehem. Great drought occurred in the land, and the 
master of the hostel went away with his cart to procure water from afar, leaving 
with Bride ' faircil buirn agus breacag arain,' a stoup of water and a bannock of 



SEASONS 165 

bread to sustain her till his return. The man left injunctions with Bride not to 
give food or drink to any one, as he had left only enough for herself, and not to 
give shelter to any one against his return. 

As Bride was working in tlie house two strangers came to the door. The 
man was old, with brown hair and grey beard, and the woman was young and 
beautiful, with oval face, straight nose, blue eyes, red lips, small ears, and golden 
brown hair, which fell below her waist. They asked tlie serving-maid for a place 
to rest, for they were footsore and weary, for food to satisfy their hunger, and 
for water to quench their thirst. Bride could not give them shelter, but she gave 
them of her own bannock and of her own stoup of water, of which they partook 
at the door ; and having thanked Bride the strangers went their way, while 
Bride gazed wistfully and sorrowfully after them. She saw that the sickness of 
life was on the young woman of the lovely face, and her heart was sore that she 
had not the power to give them shade from the heat of the sun, and cover from 
the cold of the dew. When Bride returned into the house in the darkening of 
the t%vilight, what was stranger to her to see tlian that the bannock of bread was 
whole, and the stoup of water full, as they had been before I She did not know 
under the land of tlie world what she would say or what she would do. The 
food and the water of which she herself had given them, and had seen them 
partake, without a bit or a drop lacking from them ! When she recovered from 
her wonderment Bride went out to look after the two who had gone their way, 
but she could see no more of them. But she saw a brilliant golden light over 
the stable door, and knowing that it was not ' dreag a bhais,' a meteor of death, 
she went into the stable and was in time to aid and minister to the Virgin Mother, 
and to receive the Child into her arms, for the strangers were Joseph and Mary, 
and the child was Jesus Christ, the Son of God, come to earth, and born in the 
stable of the hostel of Bethlehem. ' 'D uair a rugadh an leanabh chuir Bride 
tri braona burna fuarain fioir-uisge air clar a bhathais ann an ainm De, ann an 
ainm losa, ann an ainm Spioraid.' When the Child was born Bride put three 
drops of water from the spring of pure water on the tablet of His forehead, in 
name of God, in name of Jesus, in name of Spirit. When the master of the inn 
was returning home, and ascending the hill on which his house stood, he heard 
the murmuring music of a stream flowing past his house, and he saw the light 
of a bright star above his stable door. He knew from these signs that the 
Messiah was come and that Christ was born, ' oir bha e ann an dailgneachd 
nan daoine gum beirte losa Criosda Mac De ann am Betlehem, baile Dhaibhidh' 
— for it was in the seership of the people that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, 
would be born in Bethlehem, the town of David. And the man rejoiced with 
exceeding joy at the fulfilment of the prophecy, and he went to the stable and 
worshipped the new Christ, whose infant cradle was the manger of the horses. 

Thus Bride is called ' ban-chuideachaidh Moire,' the aid-woman of Mary. In 
this connection, and in consequence thereof, she is called ' Muime Chriosda,' 
foster-mother of Christ; ' Bana-ghoistidh Mhic De,' the god-mother of the Son 

L 2 



166 AIMSIRE 

of God ; ' Bana-ghoistidh losda Criosda nam bann agus nam beannachd,' god- 
mother of Jesus Christ of the bindings and blessings. Christ again is called 
' Dalta Bride,' the foster-son of Bride ; ' Dalta Bride bith nam beannachd,' the 
foster-son of Bride of the blessings ; ' Daltan Bride,' little fosterling of Bride, 
a term of endearment. 

John the beloved is called ' Dalta Moire,' foster-son of Mary, and ' Comhdhalta 
Chriosda,' the foster-brother, Uterally co-foster, of Christ. Fostership among 
the Higlilanders was a peculiarly close and tender tie, more close and more 
tender even than blood. There are many proverbs on the subject, as, ' Full 
gu fichead, comhdhaltas gu ceud,' blood to the twentieth, fostership to the 
hundredth degree. A church in Islay is called ' Cill Daltaiii,' the Church of tlie 
Fosterling. 

When a woman is in labour, the midwife or the woman next her in importance 
goes to the door of the house, and standing on the 'fad-buinn,' sole-sod, door- 
step, with her hands on the jambs, softly beseeches Bride to come : 

' Bhride ! Bhride ! thig a steach. Bride ! Bride ! come in, 

Tha do bheatha deanta. Thy welcome is truly made, 

Tabhair cobhair dha na bhean. Give thou relief to the woman, 

'S tabh an gein dh'an Triana.' And give the conception to the Trinity. 

When things go well, it indicates that Bride is present and is friendly to the 
family ; and when they go ill, that she is absent and offended. Following the 
action of Bride at the birth of Christ, the aid-woman dedicates the child to the 
Trinity by letting three drops of clear cold water fall on the tablet of his 
forehead. (See page 114.) 

The aid-woman was held in reverence by all nations. Juno was worshipped 
with greater honour than any other deity of ancient Rome, and the Pharaohs 
paid tribute to the aid-women of Egypt. Perhaps, however, appreciation of 
the aid-woman was never more touchingly indicated than in the reply of two 
beautiful maidens of St Kilda to John Macdonald, the kindly humorist, and the 
unsurpassed seaman and pilot of Admiral Otter of the West Coast Survey : ' O 
ghradhanan an domhain agus an t-saoghail, carson a Righ na gile 's na greine ! 
nach 'eil sibh a posadh is sibh cho briagh ? ' 'A ghaol nan daona, ciamar 
a phosas sinne ? nach do chaochail a bheanghluin ! ' ' Oh ! ye loves of the 
domain and of the universe, why. King ol' the moon and of the sun ! are ye not 
marrying and ye so beautiful?" 'Oh ! thou love of men, how can we marry? 
has not the knee-wife died ! ' 

On Bride's Eve the girls of the townland fashion a sheaf of corn into the 
likeness of a woman. They dress and deck the figure with shining shells, 
sparkling crystals, primroses, snowdrops, and any greenery they may obtain. 
In the mild climate of the Outer Hebrides several species of plants continue in 
flower during winter, unless the season be exceptionally severe. The gales of 
March are there the destroyers of plant-life. A specially bright shell or crystal 



SEASONS 167 

is placed over the heart of the figure. This is called ' reiU-iuil Bride,' the 
guiding star of Bride, and typifies the star over the stable door of Bethlehem, 
which led Bride to the infant Christ. The girls call the figure ' Bride,' 
' Brideag,' Bride, Little Bride, and cany it in procession, singing the song of 
' Bride bhoidheach oigh nam mile beus,' Beauteous Bride, virgin of a thousand 
charms. The ' banal Bride,' Bride maiden band, are clad in white, and have 
their hair down, symbolising purity and youth. They visit every house, and 
every person is expected to give a gift to Bride and to make obeisance to 
her. The gift may be a shell, a spar, a crystal, a flower, or a bit of greenery to 
decorate the person of Bride. Mothers, however, give 'bonnach Bride,' a 
Bride bannock, 'cabag Bride,' a Bride cheese, or ' rolag Bride,' a Bride roll 
of butter. Having made the round of the place the girls go to a house to make 
the ' feis Bride,' Bride feast. They bar the door and secure the windows of the 
house, and set Bride where she may see and be seen of all. Presently the 
young men of the community come humbly asking permission to honour Bride. 
After some parleying they are admitted and make obeisance to her. 

Much dancing and singing, fun and frolic, are indulged in by the young men 
and maidens during the night. As the grey dawn of the Day of Bride breaks 
they form a circle and sing the hymn of ' Bride bhoidheach niuime chorr 
Chriosda,' Beauteous Bride, choice foster-mother of Christ. They then 
distribute ' fuidheal na feisde,' the fragments of the feast — practically the whole, 
for they have partaken very sparingly, in order to have the more to give — 
among the poor women of the place. 

A similar practice prevails in Ireland. There the churn staff, not the corn 
sheaf, is fashioned into the form of a woman, and called ' Brideog,' little Bride. 
The girls come clad in their best, and the girl who has the prettiest dress gives 
it to Brideog. An ornament something like a Maltese cross is affixed to the 
breast of the figure. The ornament is composed of straw, beautifully and 
artistically interlaced by the deft fingers of the maidens of Bride. It is 
called ' rionnag Brideog,' the star of little Bride. Pins, needles, bits of 
stone, bits of straw, and other things are given to Bride as gifts, and food by 
the mothers. 

Customs assume the complexion of their surroundings, as fishes, birds, and 
beasts assimilate the colours of their habitats. The seas of the 'Garbh 
Chriocha,' Rough Boimds in which the cult of Bride has longest lived, abound 
in beautiful iridescent shells, and the mountains in bright sparkling stones, and 
these are utilised to adorn the ikon of Bride. In other districts where the figure 
of Bride is made, there are no shining shells, no brilliant crystals, and the girls 
decorate the image witli artistically interlaced straw. 

The older women are also busy on the Eve of Bride, and great preparations 
are made to celebrate her Day, which is the first day of spring. They make an 
oblong basket in the shape of a cradle, which they call ' leaba Bride,' the bed of 
Bride. It is embellished with much care. Then they take a choice sheaf of 



168 AIMSIRE 

corn, generally oats, and fashion It into the form of a woman. They deck this 
ikon with gay ribbons from the loom, sparkling shells from the sea, and bright 
stones from the hill. All the sunny sheltered vaUeys around are searched for 
primroses, daisies, and other flowers that open their eyes in the morning of the 
year. This lay figure is called Bride, ' dealbh Bride,' the ikon of Bride. When 
It is dressed and decorated with aU the tenderness and loving care the women 
can lavish upon it, one woman goes to the door of the house, and standing on 
the step with her hands on the jambs, calls softly into the darkness, ' Tha 
leaba Bride deiseal,' Bride's bed is ready. To this a ready woman behind 
replies, ' Thigeadh Bride steach, is e beatha Bride,' Let Bride come in. Bride is 
welcome. The woman at the door again addresses Bride, ' A Bhride ! Bhride 
thig a steach, tha do leaba deanta. Gleidh an teach dh'an Triana,' Bride ! 
Bride, come thou in, thy bed is made. Preserve the house for the Trinity. 
The women then place the ikon of Bride with great ceremony in the bed they 
have so carefully prepared for it. They place a small straight white wand (the 
bark being peeled oif) beside the figure. This wand is variously called ' slatag 
Bride,' the little rod of Bride, ' slachdan Bride,' the little wand of Bride, and 
' barrag Bride,' the birch of Bride. The wand is generally of birch, broom, 
bramble, white willow, or other sacred wood, ' crossed ' or banned wood being 
carefidly avoided. A similar rod was given to the kings of Ireland at their 
coronation, and to the Lords of the Isles at their instatement. It was straight 
to typify justice, and white to signify peace and purity — bloodshed was not 
to be needlessly caused. The women then level the ashes on the hearth, 
smoothing and dusting them over carefully. Occasionally the ashes, surrounded 
by a roll of cloth, are placed on a board to safeguard them against disturbance 
from draughts or other contingencies. In the early morning the family closely 
scan the ashes. If they find the marks of the wand of Bride they rejoice, but 
if they find ' lorg Bride,' the footprint of Bride, their joy is very great, for this 
is a sign that Bride was present with them during the night, and is favourable to 
them, and that there is increase in family, in flock, and in field during the 
coming year. Should there be no marks on the ashes, and no traces of Bride's 
presence, the family are dejected. It is to them a sign that she is oflx;nded, and 
will not hear their call. To propitiate her and gain her ear the family offer 
oblations and burn incense. The oblation generally is a cockerel, some say a 
pullet, buried alive near the junction of three streams, and the incense is burnt 
on the hearth when the family retire for the night. 

In the Highlands and Islands St Bride's Day was also called ' La Cath 
Choileach,' Day of Cock-fighting. The boys brought cocks to the school to fight. 
The most successful cock was called ' coileach buadha,' victor cock, and its 
proud owner was elected king of the school for the year. A defeated bird was 
called ' fuidse,' craven, ' coileach fuidse,' craven cock. All the defeated, 
maimed, and killed cocks were the perquisites of the schoolmaster. In the 
Lowlands ' La Coinnle,' Candlemas Day, was the day thus observed. 



SEASONS 169 

It is said in Ireland that Bride walked before Mary with a lighted candle in 
each hand when she went up to the Temple for purification. The winds were 
strong on the Temple heights, and the tapers were unprotected, yet they did not 
flicker nor fail. From this incident Bride is called ' Bride boillsge,' Bride of 
brightness. This day is occasionally called ' La Fheill Bride nan Coinnle,' the 
Feast Day of Bride of the Candles, but more generally ' La Fheill Moire nan 
Coinnle,' the Feast Day of Mary of the Candles — Candlemas Day. 

The serpent is supposed to emerge from its hollow among the hills on St 
Bride's Day, and a propitiatory hymn was sung to it. Only one verse of this 
hymn has been obtained, apparently the first. It diflfers in ditfei-ent localities : — 

' Moch maduinn Bhride, Early on Bride's morn 

Thig an nirahir as an toll. The serpent shall come ft-om the hole, 

Cha bhoin raise ris an nimhir, I wiU not molest the serpent, 

Cha bhoin an nimliir rium.' Nor will the serpent molest me. 

Other versions say : — 

' La Feill na Bride, The Feast Day of the Bride, 

Thig nighean Imhir as a chnoc. The daughterof Ivor shall come from the knoll, 

Cha bhean mise do nighean I will not touch the daughter of Ivor, 

'S cha dean i mo lochd.' [Imhir, Nor shall she harm me. 

' La Fheill Bride brisgeanach On the Feast Day of Bride, 

Thig an ceann de 'n chaiteanach. The head will come off the ' caiteanach,' 

Thig nighean lomhair as an tom The daughter of Ivor will come from the knoll 

Le fonn feadalaich.' With tuneful whistling. 

' Thig an nathair as an toll The serpent will come from the hole 

La donn Bride, On the brown Day of Bride, 

Ged robh tri traighean dh' an Though there should be three feet of snow 

Air leachd an lair.' [t-sneaehd On the flat surface of the ground. 

The ' daughter of Ivor ' is the serpent ; and it is said that the serpent will 
not sting a descendant of Ivor, he having made ' tabliar agus tuis,' offering and 
incense, to it, thereby securing immunity from its sting for himself and his seed 
for ever. 

' La Bride nam brig ban On the day of Bride of the white hills 

Thig an rigen ran a tom. The noble queen will come from the knoll, 

Cha bhoin raise ris an rigen ran, I will not molest the noble queen, 

'S cha bhoin an rigen ran rium.' Nor will the noble queen molest rae. 

These lines would seem to point to serpent-worship. One of the most curious 
customs of Bride's Day was the pounding of the serpent in effigy. The following 
scene was described to the writer by one who was present : — ' I was one of 
sevei'al guests in the hospitable house of Mr John Tolmie of Uignis, Skye. One 



170 AIMSIRE 

of my fellow-guests was Mrs Macleod, widow of Major Macleod of Stein, and 
daughter of Flora Macdonald. Mrs Macleod was known among her friends as 
" Major Ann." She combined the warmestof hearts with the sternest of manners, 
and was the admiration of old and young for her wit, wisdom, and generosity. 
When told tliat her son had fallen in a duel with the celebrated Glengarry — the 
Ivor Maclvor of Waverley — she exclaimed, " Math thu fein mo ghiullan ! math 
thu fein mo ghiullan ! gaol geal do mhathar fein ! Is fearr bas saoidh na gras 
daoidh ; cha bhasaich an gaisgeach ach an aon turas, ach an gealtair iomadaidh 
uair ! " — " Good thou art my son ! good thou art my son ! thou the white love of 
thine own mother ! Better the hero's death than the craven's life ; the brave dies 
but once, the coward many times." In a company of noblemen and gentlemen 
at Dunvegan Castle, Mrs Macleod, then in her 88th year, danced the reel of Tulloch 
and other reels, jigs, and sti-athspcys as lightly as a girl in her teens. Wherever 
she was, all strove to show Mrs Macleod attention and to express the honour in 
which she was held. She accepted all these honours and attentions with grace 
and dignity, and without any trace of vanity or self-consciousness. One morning 
at breakfast at Uignis some one remarked that this was the Day of Bride. " The 
Day of Bride," repeated Mrs Macleod meditatively, and with a dignified bow of 
apology rose from the table. All watched her movements with eager curiosity. 
Mrs Macleod went to the fireside and took up the tongs and a bit of peat and 
walked out to the doorstep. She then took off her stocking and put the peat 
into it, and pounded it with the tongs. And as she pounded the peat on the 
step, she intoned a " rann," rune, only one verse of which I can remember : — 

" An diugh La Bride, This is the day of Bride, 

Thig an righinn as an torn. The queen mil come from the mound, 

Cha bhean mise ris an righinn, I will not touch the queen, 

Cha bhean an righinn rium." Nor will the queen touch me. 

' Having pounded the peat and replaced her stocking, Mrs Macleod returned 
to the table, apologising for her remissness in not remembering the Day earlier 
in the morning. I could not make out whether Mrs Macleod was serious or 
acting, for she was a consummate actress and the delight of young and old. 
Many curious ceremonies and traditions in connection with Bride were told 
that morning, but I do not remember them.' 

The pounding in the stocking of the peat representing the serpent would 
indicate destruction rather than worship, perhaps the bruising of the serpent's 
head. Probably, however, the ceremony is older, and designed to symbolise 
something now lost. 

Gaelic lore is full of sayings about serpents. These indicate close observation . 
' Tha cluas nathrach aige,' — he has the ear of a serpent (he hears keenly but 
does not speak) ; ' Tha a bhana-bhuitseach lubach mar an nathair,' — the witch- 
woman is crooked as the serpent ; ' Is e an t-iorball is neo-chronail dhiot, cleas 



SEASONS 171 

na nathrach nimhe,'— the tail is the least harmful of thee, the trick of the 
serpent venomous. 

' Ge niin do chraicionn Though smooth be thy skin. 

Is niraheil gatli do bheuil ; Venomous is the sting of thy mouth ; 

Tlia thu mar an nathair laclulinn. Thou art like the dun serpent, 

Gabh do rathad fein.' Take thine own road. 

' Bean na maise te neo-f hialaidh. The beauteous woman, ungenerous, 

'S i Ian do na briathra blath. And she fuU of warm words, 

Tha i mar an nathair riabhach. Is like the brindled serpent, 

'S gath na spiocaireachd na dail.' And the sting of greed is in her. 

The people of old practised early retiring, early rising, and diligent 
working : — 

' Suipeir is soillse Oidhch Fheill Bride, Supper and light the Night of St Bride, 
Cadal is soillse Oidhch Fheill Paruig.' Sleep and light the Night of St Patrick. 

The dandelion is called 'bearnan Bride,' the little notched of Bride, in 
allusion to the serrated edge of the petal. The linnet is called ' bigein Bride,' 
little bird of Bride. In Lismore the oyster-catcher is called 'giUe Bride,' page 
of Bride : — 

• GiUe Bride bochd. Poor page of Bride, 

Gu de bhigil a th' ort ? ' What cheeping ails thee ? 

In Uist the oyster-catcher is called ' Bridein,' bird of Bride. There was 
once an oyster-catcher in Uist, and he was so elated with his own growing 
riches that he thought he would like to go and see something of the great 
world around him. He went away, leaving his three beautiful, olive-brown, 
blotched black-and-grey eggs in the rough shingle among the stones of the 
seashore. Shortly after he left the grey crow came hopping round to see what 
was doing in the place. In her peering she saw the three eggs of the oyster- 
catcher in the hollow among the rocks, and she thought she would like to try 
the taste of one of them, as a variant )ipon the refuse of land and shore. So 
she drove her strong bill through the broad end of an egg, and seizing it by the 
shell, carried it up to the mossy holm adjoining. The quality of the egg was 
so pleasing to the grey crow that she went back for the second, and then for 
the third egg. The grey crow was taking the last suck of the last egg when the 
oyster-catcher was heard returning with his usual fuss and Hurry and hurry- 
scurry. He looked at his nest, but there were no eggs there — no, not one, and 
the oyster-catcher knew not what to do or say. He flew about to and fro, 
hither and thither in great distress, crying out in the bitterness of his heart, 
'Co dh' ol na h-uiljhean? Co dh' ol na h-uibhean ? Cha chuala mi riamh a 
leithid ! Cha chuala mi riamh a leithid ! ' Who drank the eggs ? Who drank 
the eggs ? I never heard the like ! I never heard the like ! The grey crow 
listened now on this side and now on that, and gave two more precautionary 



172 



AIMSIRE 



wipes to her already well-wiped bill in the fringy, friendly raoss, then looked 
up with much affected innocence and called out in deeply sympathetic tones, 
' Cha chuala na sinne sinn f hein sin, ged is sinn is sine 's an aite,' No, nor 
heard we ourselves that, though we are older in the place. 

Bride is said to preside over the diiferent seasons of the year and to bestow 
their functions upon them according to their respective needs. Some call 
January 'am mios marbh,' the dead month, some December, while some apply 
the terms, 'na tri miosa marbh,' the three dead months, 'an raithe marbh,' the 
dead quarter, and ' raitlie marbh na bliadhna,' the dead quarter of the year, to 
the winter months when nature is asleep. Bride with her white wand is said to 
breathe life into the mouth of the dead Winter and to bring him to open his 
eyes to the tears and the smiles, the sighs and the laughter of Spring. The 
venom of the cold is said to tremble for its safety on Bride's Day and to flee for 
its life on Patrick's Day. There is a saying : — 



' Chuir Bride miar 's an abhuinn 
La na Feill Bride [fhuachd. 
Is dh' fhalbh mathair ghuir an 
Is nigh i basan anns an abhuinn 
La na Feill Padruig [fhuachd.' 
Is dh' fhalbh mathair ghin an 



Bride put her finger in the river 
On the Feast Day of Bride [cold. 

And away went the hatching mother of the 
And she bathed her palms in the river 
On the Feast Day of Patrick [the cold. 
And away went the conception mother of 



Another version says : — 

' Chuir Brighid a bas ann, 
Chuir Moire a cas ann, 
Chuir Padruig achlach fhuar ann.'(?) 



Bride put her palm in it, 
Mary per her foot in it, 
Patrick put the cold stone in it. 



alluding to the decrease in cold as the year advances. In illustration of this is — 
' Chuir Moire meoirean anns an uisge La Fheill Bride is thug i neimh as, 's La 
Fheill Padruig nigh i lamhan ann 's dh' fhalbh am fuachd uil as,' Mary put her 
fingers in the water on Bride's Feast Day and the venom went out of it, and 
on Patrick's Feast Day she bathed her hands in it and all the cold went 
out of it. 

Poems narrating the events of the seasons were current. That mentioning 
the occurrences of Spring begins : — 

'La Bride breith an earraich TheDayof Bride, the birthday ofSpring, 

Thig an dearrais as an torn. The serpent emerges from the knoll, 

Theirear " tri-bhliadhnaich " ri aighean, ' Three-years-olds ' is applied to heifers, 

Bheirear gearrain chon nam fonn.' Garrons are taken to the fields. 

In Uist the flocks are counted and dedicated to Bride on her Day. 

' La Fheill Bride boidlieach On the Feast Day of beautiful Bride 

Cunntar spreidh air mointeach. The flocks are counted on the moor. 

Cuirear fitheach chon na nide. The raven goes to prepare the nest, 

'S cuirear rithis rocais. ' And again goes the rook. 



SEASONS 173 

' Nead air Bhrighit, ugh air Inid, ian air Nest at Brigit, egg at Shrove, chick 

Chasg, at Easter, 

Marabithaiganfhitheachbithidharabas.' If the raven has not he has death. 

The raven is the first bird to nest, closely followed by the mallard and the 
rook. It is affirmed that — 

' Co fad 's a theid a ghaoth 's an'dorus As far as the wind shall enter the door 
La na Feill Bride, On the Feast Day of Bride, 

Theid an cathadh anns an dorus Tlie snow sliall enter the door 

La na Feill Paruig.' On the Feast Day of Patrick. 

In Barra, lots are cast for the ' iolachan iasgaich,' fishing-banks, on Bride's 
Day. These fishing-banks of the sea are as well known and as accurately 
defined by the fishermen of Barra as are the qualities and boundaries of their 
crofts on land, and they apportion them with equal care. Having ascertained 
among themselves the number of boats going to the long-line fishing, the people 
divide the banks accordingly. All go to church on St Bride's Day. After 
reciting the virtues and blessings of Bride, and the examples to be drawn from 
her life, the priest reminds his hearers that the great God who made the land 
and all thereon, also made the sea and all therein, and tliat ' murachan na mara 
agus tachar na tire,' 'cuilidh Chaluira agus cuilidh Mhoire,' the wealth of sea and 
the plenty of land, the treasury of Columba and the treasury of Mary, are His 
gift to them that follow Him and call upon His name, on rocky hill or on crested 
wave. The priest urges upon them to avoid disputes and quarrels over their 
fishing, to remember the dangers of the deep and the precariousness of life, and 
in their fishing to remember the poor, the widow and the orphan, now left to the 
fatherhood of God and to the care of His people. Having come out of church, 
the men cast lots for the fishing-banks at the church door. After this, they 
disperse to their homes, all talking loudly and discussing their luck or unluck 
in the drawing of the lots. A stranger would be apt to think that the people 
were quarrelling. But it is not so. The simultaneous talking is their habit, 
and the loudness of their speaking is the necessity of their living among the 
noise of winds and waves, whether on sea or on shore. Like the people of St 
Kilda, the people of Barra are warmly attached to one another, the joy of one 
and the grief of another being the joy and grief of all. 

The same practice of casting lots for their fishing-banks prevails among the 
fisher-folks of the Lofodin Islands, Norway. 

From these traditional observations, it will be seen that Bride and her 
services are near to the hearts and lives of the people. In some jihases of her 
character she is much more to them than Mary is. 

Dedications to Bride are common throughout Great Britain and Ireland. 



[pp. 174-5 



174 



AIMSIRE 



SLOINNTIREACHD BHKIDE 




LOINNEADH na Ban-naomh Bride, 

Lasair dhealrach oir, muime chorr Chriosda. 
Bride nighinn Dughaill duinn, 
Mhic Aoidh, mhic Airt, ndiic Cuiiin, 
Mhic Crearair, mliic Cis, mliic Carmaig, mhic 
Carruinn. 



Gach la agus gach oidhche 

Ni mi sloinntireachd air Bride, 

Cha mharbhar mi, cha spuillear mi, 

Cha charcar mi, cha chiurar mi, 

Cha mhu dh^fhuo;as Criosd an dearniad mi. 



Cha loisg tcine, grian, no gealach mi, 
Cha bhath luin, li, no sala mi, 
Cha reub saighid sithich, no sibhich mi. 
Is mi fo chomaraig mo Naonih Muire 
Is i mo chaondi mhuime Bride. 



SEASONS 175 



GENEALOGY OF BRIDE 

Thj; genealogy of the holv maiden Uride, 
Radiant flame of gold, noble foster-mother of Christ. 
Bride the daughter of Dugall the brown, 
Son of Aodh, son of Art, son of Conn, 
Son of Crearar, son of Cis, son of Carniac, sou of 
Carruin. 

Every day and every night 

That I say the genealogy of Bride, 

I shall not be killed, I shall not be harried, 

I shall not be put in cell, I shall not be wounded. 

Neither shall Christ leave me in forgetfulness. 

No fire, no sun, no moon shall burn me. 

No lake, no water, nor sea shall drown mc. 

No arrow of fairy nor dart of fay shall wound me, 

And I under the protection of my Holy Mary, 

And my gentle foster-mother is my beloved Bride. 



176 



AIMSIRE 



BRIDE BAN-CHOBHAIR 



[71] 




HAINIG thugam cobhair, 
Moire gheal is Bride ; 
Mar a rug Anna Moire, 
Mar a rug Moire Criosda, 
Mar a rug Eile Eoin Baistidh 
Gun mhar-bhith dha dhi, 
Cuidich thusa mise 'ni asaid, 
Cuidich mi a Bhride ! 



Mar a gheineadh Criosd am Moire 
C'omhliont air gach lainih, 
Cobhair thusa niise, nihoinie, 
An gein a thoir bho 'n chnaimh ; 
'S mar a chomhn thu Oigh an t-solais, 
Gun or, gun odh, gun ni, 
Conihn orm-sa, 's mor m' othrais, 
Comhn orm a Bhride ! 



SEASONS 177 



BRIDE THE AID-WOMAN 

There came to me assistance, 
Mary fair and Bride ; 
As Anna bore Mary, 
As Mary bore Christ, 
As Eile bore John the Baptist 
Without flaw in him, 
Aid thou me in mine unbearing, 
Aid me, O Bride ! 

As Christ was conceived of Mary 
Full perfect on every hand. 
Assist thou me, foster-mother. 
The conception to bring from the bone ; 
And as thou didst aid the Virgin of joy, 
Without gold, without corn, without kine, 
Aid thou me, great is my sickness. 
Aid me, O Bride ! 



178 



AIMSIRE 



MANUS MO RUIN 



[72] 



Magnus was descended from Malcolm Canraore, King of the Scots. Earl 
Magnus and his half-brother Earl Hakon ruled the Northern Isles, and while 
they were in agreement with one another there was peace and plenty within 
those isles. But dissensions arose. Magnus was eminently handsome, beneficent, 
and beloved. Hakon was lacking in these qualities, and he became morose and 
jealous of his brother. 

The two brothers met at the Thingstead in Lent, Hakon being there for 
offensive, and Magnus for defensive, purposes. Wisdom prevailed, however, 
and war was averted. To confirm the peace Hakon invited Magnus to meet 
him in Pasch week in the church of Egilsey, the brothers agreeing to limit their 
retinue to two warships each. Magnus observed the agreement and came with 
two ships, but Hakon brought eight, with their fiiU complement of armed men. 

His people wished to defend Magnus, but he refused to allow the spilling of 
blood, or the perilling of souls. Magnus submitted to his brother three proposals. 
First, that he should go to his relative, the King of the Scots, and never return ; 
second, that he shoidd go to Rome or to Jerusalem and never return ; or third, 
that he would submit to be maimed, gouged, or slain. Hakon spurned all the 
proposals save the last, and Magnus was put to death on the 
14th of April, 1115, to the great grief of his people. 



-^\<^W MHANUIS mo ruin. 

Is tu dheanadli dhuinn iul, 
A chuirp chubhraidh nan dul, 
Culmhnich oirnn. 

Cuimhnich a naoimli nam buadh, 
A chomraig 's a chomhn an sluagh, 
Cobhair oirnne 'n ar truaigh, 
'S na treig sinn. 

Tog ar seilbli niacli ri leirg, 
Casg coin ghioirr is coin dheirg, 
Cum uainn fuath, fath, feirg, 
Ajrus foirne. 




SEASONS 179 



MAGNUS OF MY LOVE 

The place where Magnus was slain had been a rough, sterile moor of heath 
and moss, but immediately Magnus was put to death the moor became a 
smiling grassy plain, and tliere issued a heavenly light and a sweet odour from 
the holy ground. 

Those who were in peril prayed to Magnus and were rescued, and those who 
were sick came to his grave and were healed. Pilgrims flocked to his tomb to 
keep vigil at his shrine, and be cured of their leprosy of body or of soul. 

St Magnus had three burials — the first in the island of Egilsey where he was 
slain, and the second at the intercession of his mother, Thora, in Christ Church 
in the island of Birsa. During imminent peril at sea Earl Rognovald prayed to 
Magnus for deliverance, and vowed that he would build a minster to his memory 
more beautiful than any church in those lands. The prayer was heard, and 
Rognovald built and endowed, to the memory of the holy Magnus, the cathedral 
church of Kirkwall. Thither the relics of the saint were brought and interred, 
and the cathedral became the resort of pilgrims who sought the aid of St Magnus. 

At the battle of Anglesea, between Magnus Barefoot, his brother Ireland, 
his cousin Haco, and the Earls of Chester and Shrewsbury, Magnus recited the 
Psalter during the conflict. The victory of his northern kinsmen was attributed 
to the holy Magnus. 

O Magnus of my love, 
Thou it is who would'st us guide. 
Thou fragrant body of grace, 
Remember us. 

Remember us, thou Saint of power, 
Who didst encompass and protect the people. 
Succour thou us in our distress. 
Nor forsake us. 

Lift our flocks to the hills, 
(j)uell the wolf and the fox. 
Ward from us spectre, giant, fury, 
And oppression. 



180 AIMSIRE 

Cuartaich tan agus buar, 

Cuartaich caor agus uan ; 

Cum uap an fhamh-bhual, 

'S an luoh-fheoir. 

Crath an druchd o'd speur air crodh, 
Thoir fas air feur, deis, agus siiodh, 
Dubhrach, lus-feidh, ceis, meacan-dogh, 
Agus neoinean. 

O Mhanuis nan glonn. 
Air bharca nan sonn, 
Air bharra nan tonn, 
Air sala no fonn, 

Comhn agus gleidh sinn. 



SEASONS 181 

Surround cows and herds. 
Surround sheep and lambs ; 
Keep from them the water-vole, 
And the field-vole. 

Sprinkle dew from the sky upon kine, 
Give growth to grass, and corn, and sap to plants, 
Water-cress, deers-grass, 'ceis,' burdock. 
And daisy. 

O Magnus of fame, 
On the barque of the heroes, 
On the crests of the waves. 
On the sea, on the land, 
Aid and preserve us. 



182 



AIMSIRE 



AM BEANNACHADH BEALLTAIN [73] 



Beaixtain, Beltane, is the first day of May. On May Day all the fires of the 
district were extinguished and ' tein eigin,' need-fire, produced on the knoll. 
This fire was divided in two, and people and cattle rushed through for purification 
and safeguarding against 'ealtraigh agus dosgaidh,' mischance and murrain, 
during the year. The people obtained fires for their homes from this need-fire. 
The practice of producing the need-fire came down in the Highlands and Islands 
to the first quarter of this century. The writer found traces of it in 
such distant places as Arran, Uist, and Sutherland. In 1S95 a woman 



EANNAICH, a Thriaiiailt fhioir nach gann, 
TMi fein, mo cheile agus mo chlann, 
Mo chlann mhaoth 's am mathair chaomh 'n an ceann, 
Air chlar chubhr nan raon, air airidh ehaon nam beann, 
Air chlar chubhr nan raon, air airidh chaon nam beann. 



Gach ni na m' fhardaich, no ta 'na m' shealbli, 

Gach buar is barr, gach tan is tealbh, 

Bho Oidhche Shanilina chon Oidhche Bheallt, 

Piseach maith, agus beannachd mallt, 

Bho mhuir, gu muir, agus bun gach allt, 

Bho thonn gu tonn, agus bonn gach steallt. 




Tri Pears a gabhail sealbh anns gach ni 'na m' stor, 
An Trianailt dhearbha da m' dhion le coir ; 
O m' anam riaraich am briathra Phoil, 
Is dion mo chiallain fo sgiath do ghloir, 
Dion mo chiallain fo sgiath do ghloir. 



Beannaich gach ni, agus gach aon, 

Ta 's an teaghlach bheag ri m' thaobh ; 



SEASONS 183 



THE BELTANE BLESSING 

in Arran said that in the time of her father the people made the need-fire on 
the knol], and then rushed home and brought out tlieir 'creatairean,' creatures, 
and i)ut them roimd the fire to safeguard them, ' bho 'n bhana bhuitsicii mhoir 
Nic-creafain,' from the arcli-witch Crawford. 

The ordeal of passing through the fires gave rise to a proverb which I heard 
used by an old man in Lewis in 1S73 : — ' A Mhoire ! mhicean, bu dora dhomhsa sin 
a dheanamli dhuit na dliol eadar dha theine mlioir Bhcaill,' Ah Mary ! sonnie, it 
were worse for nic to do that for thee, ti;an to pass between the two great fires 
of Beall. 

Bless, O Threefold true and bountiful. 

Myself, my spouse, and my children. 

My tender children and their beloved mother at their head. 

On the fragrant plain, on the gay mountain shelling. 

On the fragrant plain, on the gay mountain shelling. 

Everything within my dwelling or in my possession. 

All kine and crops, all flocks and corn, 

From Hallow Eve to Beltane Eve, 

With goodly progress and gentle blessing. 

From sea to sea, and every river mouth, 

From wave to wave, and base of waterfall. 

Be the Three Persons taking possession of all to me belonging. 
Be the sure Trinity protecting me in truth ; 
Oh ! satisfy my soul in the words of Paul, 
And shield my loved ones beneath the wing of Thy glory. 
Shield my loved ones beneath the wing of Thy glory. 

Bless everything and every one. 
Of this little household by my side ; 



184 AIMSIRE 

Cuir Crois Chriosd oirnn le buaidh baigli, 
Gun am faic sinn tir an aigh, 

Gun am faic sinn tir an aigh. 

Trath threigeas buar am buabhal bho, 
Trath threigeas cuanal an cual chro, 
Trath dh' eireas ceigich ri beinn a cheo, 
Treoir na Trianaid bhi triall 'n an coir, 

treoir na Trianaid bhi triall 'n an coir. 

A Thi a chruthaich mi air tus, 
Eisd is fritheil riuni aig lubadh glun, 
Moch is anamoch mar is iul, 
A d' lathair fein a Dhe nan dul, 

A d' lathair fein a Dhe nan dul. 



SEASONS 185 

Place the cross of Christ on us with the power of love, 
Till we see the land of joy, 

Till we see the land of joy. 

What time the kine shall forsake the stalls, 

What time the sheep shall forsake the folds. 

What time the goats shall ascend to the mount of mist, 

May the tending of the Triune follow them, 

May the tending of the Triune follow them. 

Thou Being who didst create me at the beginning. 
Listen and attend nie as I bend the knee to Thee, 
Morning and evening as is becoming in me, 
In Thine own presence, () God of life, 

In Thine own presence, O God of life. 



186 



AIMSIRE 




AM BEANNACHD BEALLTAIN [74] 



MHOIRE, a nihathair nan naonih, 
Beannaich an t-al 's an crodh-laoigh ; 
Na leig fuath no foirne, 'n ar gaoith, 
Fuadaich oirnne doigh nan daoi. 



Cum do sliuil gach Luan is Mart, 
Air crodh-laoigh 's air aighean dair : 
lomachair leinn o bheinn gu sal, 
Tionail fein an treud ''s an t-al. 



Gach Ciadaon agus Daorn bi leo, 
Biodh do lamh chaon a chaoidh ''n an coir : 
Cuallaich buar d'ani buabhal bho, 
Cuallaich cuanal d'an cual chro. 



Gach Aona bi-sa, a Naoinih, 'n an ceann, 
Treoraich caoraich a aodann bheann, 
Le 'n al beag ba as an deigh, 
Cuartaich 'ad le cuartachd Dhe. 

Gach Sathurna bith leo mar chach, 
Tabhair gobhair a steach le 'n al, 
Gach meann is maos gu taobh sal, 
Is Lioc a h-Eigir gu h-ard, 
Le biolair uaine shuas m'a barr. 



Treoir na Trianailt d' ar dian 's gach cas, 
Treoir Chriosda le shith 's le Phais, 
Treoir an Spioraid, Ligh na slaint, 
Is Athar priseil. Righ nan gras. 



SEASONS 187 



THE TJELTANE BLESSING 

Mary, thou mother of saints. 
Bless our flocks and bearing kinc ; 
Hate nor scath let not come near us. 
Drive from us the ways of the wicked. 

Keep thine eye every Monday and Tuesday 
On the bearing kine and the pairing (jueys ; 
Accompany us from hill to sea. 
Gather thyself the sheep and tlieir progeny. 

Every Wednesday and Thursday be with them, 
Be thy gracious hand always about them ; 
Tend the cows down to their stalls, 
Tend the sheep down to their folds ! 

Every Friday be thou, O Saint, at their head. 
Lead the sheep from the face of the bens. 
With their innocent little lambs following them, 
Encompass them with God's encompassing. 

Every Saturday be likewise with them. 
Bring the goats in with their young. 
Every kid and goat to the sea side. 
And from the Rock of Aegir on high. 
With cresses green about its summit. 

The strength of the Triune be our shield in distress, 
The strength of Christ, His peace and His Pasch, 
Tlie strength of the Spirit, Physician of health. 
And of the precious Father, the King of grace. 



188 AIMSIRE 



'S gach naomh eile bha nan deigh 
'S a choisinn suamhnas rioghachd De. 

Beannaich sinn fein agus ar cloinn, 
Beannaich gach creubh a thig o'r loinn, 
Beannaich am fear sin air an sloinn, 
Beannaich a Dhe, an te a rug o'n bhroinii. 

Gach naomhachd, beannachd agus buaidh, 
Bhi 'g aomadh leinn gach am 's gach uair, 
An ainm Trithinn Naomha shuas, 
Athar, Mic, is Spiorad buan. 

Crois Chriosd bhi d' ar dion a nuas, 
Crois Chriosd bhi d' ar dion a suas, 
Crios Chriosd bhi d' ar dion mu 'r cuart, 
Gabhail beannachd Bealltain uainn, 

Gabhail beannachd Bealltain uainn. 



SEASONS 189 



And of every other saint who succeeded them 

And who earned the repose of the kingdom of God. 

Bless ourselves and our cliildren, 

Bless every one who shall come from our loins, 

Bless him whose name we bear, 

Bless, O God, her from whose womb we came. 

Every holiness, blessing and power. 
Be yielded to us every time and every hour. 
In name of the Holy Threefold above, 
Father, Son, and Spirit everlasting. 

Be the Cross of Christ to shield us downward, 
Be the Cross of Christ to shield us upward. 
Be the Cross of Christ to shield us roundward, 
Accepting our Beltane blessing from us. 

Accepting our Beltane blessing from us. 



190 AIMSIRE 



LAOIDH AN TRIALL [75] 

On the first day of May the people of the crofter townland are up betimes and 
busy as bees about to swarm. This is the day of migrating, ' bho baile gu beinn,' 
from townland to moorland, from the winter homestead to the summer sheiling. 
The summer of their joy is come, the summer of the sheiling, the song, the pipe, 
and the dance, when the people ascend the hill to the clustered bothies, overlook- 
ing the distant sea from among the fronded ferns and fragrant heather, where 
neighbour meets neighbour, and lover meets lover. All the families of the 
townland bring their different flocks together at a particular place and drive the 
whole away. This miscellaneous herd is called ' triall,' procession, and is 
composed of horses, cattle, sheep, and goats. In the ' triall ' the sheep lead ; the 
cattle follow according to their ages ; then come the goats, and finally the horses, 
with creels slung across their backs laden with domestic gear of various kinds. 
The men carry burdens of spades, sticks, pins, ropes, and other things that may 
be needed to repair their summer huts, while the women carry bedding, meal, 
and dairy utensils. About their waists the women wear a cord of wool, or a 
belt of leather called ' crios-feile,' kilt girdle, underneath which their skirts are 
drawn up and fastened, to enable them to walk the moor with greater ease. 
These crofter women appear like Leezie Lindsay in the old song — 

' She kilted her coats of green satin. 
And she kilted them up to the knee.' 

When the people meet, they greet each other with great cordiality, as if they had 
not seen one another for months or even years, instead of probably only a few 
days before. There are endless noises in the herd : sheep bleat for their lambs, 
lambs for their mothers, cows low for their calves, and the calves respond, mares 
neigh for their foals, and foals whinny in reply to their dams as they lightly skip 
and scamper, curveting in and out, little dreaming of coming work and hard fare. 
The men give directions, several at a time ; the women knit their stockings and 
sing their songs, walking free and erect as if there were no burdens on their backs 
or on their hearts, nor any sin or sorrow in the world so far as they are concerned. 
Ranged along on either side of the procession are barefooted, bareheaded 
comely girls and sturdy boys, and sagacious dogs who every now and then, and 
every here and there, have a neck-and-neck race with some perverse young beast, 
unwillingly driven from his home, for, unhke his elders, the animal does not 
know or does not remember the pleasures of the heathery knoll, the grassy dell 
or fronded glen, and the joyous freedom of the summer sheiling. All who meet 
them on the way bless the ' triall,' and invoke upon it a good daj-, much luck and 
prosperity, and the safe shepherding of the Son of Mary on man and beast. 



SEASONS 191 

When the grazing ground is reached, the loads are laid down, llie huts repaired, 
fires kindled and food made ready. The people bring forward their stock, each 
man his own, and count them into the fold. The herdsman of the townland and 
one or two more men stand within the gateway and coimt the flocks as they enter. 
Each crofter is restricted in his stock on the common grazing of the townland. 
He may, however, vary the number, and the ages of the species and thus equalise 
a deficit in one species by an excess in another. Should a man have a ' barr- 
suma,' oversoum, he may arrange with a man who has a ' di-suma,' undersoum, 
or with the townland at large, for his extra stock. Every facility is given to a 
man in straits, the consideration of these intelligent crofting people towards one 
another being most pleasing. The grazing arrangements of the people, complex 
to a stranger, but simple to themselves, show an intimate knowledge of animal 
and pastoral life. Having seen to their flocks and to the repairing of their huts, 
the people resort to their shelling feast. This feast consists principally of a 
male lamb, without spot or blemish, killed that day. Formerly this lamb was 
sacrificed, now it is eaten. The feast is shared with friends and neighbours ; 
all wish each other luck and prosperity, with increase in their flocks : — 

'Ann an coir gach fireach Beside each knoll 

Piseach crodh na h-airidh.' The progeny of the shelling cows. 

The frugal feast being finished and the remains divided among the dogs, who 
are not the least interested or interesting actors in the day's proceedings, every 
head is uncovered and every knee is bent as they invoke on man and beast the 
' she])herding of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob.' 

Protestantism prevails in Lewis, Harris, and North Uist, and the people 
confine their invocations to the Trinity : — 

' Feuch air fear coimhead Israil The Shepherd that keeps Israel 

Codal chan aom no suain.' He slumbers not nor sleeps. 

Roman Catholicism prevails in Benbecula, South Uist, and Barra, and in their 
dedicatory hymn the people of these islands invoke, besides the Trinity, St Michael 
of the three-cornered shield and flaming sword, patron of their horses ; St Columba 
of the holy deeds, guardian of their cattle ; Bride of the clustering hair, the 
foster-mother of Christ; and the golden-haired Virgin, mother of the White Lamb. 
As the people intone their prayers on the lonely hill-side, literally in the 
wilderness, the music of their evensong floats over glen and dell, loch and stream, 
and is echoed from corrie and cliff till it is lost on the soft evening air. 



[pp. 192-3 



192 



AIMSIRE 



LAOIDH AN TRIALL 



HICHEIL mhil nan steud geala, 
Choisinn cios air Dragon fala, 
Ghaol Dia 's pian Mhic Muire, 
Sgaoil do sgiath oirnn, dion sinn uile, 

Sgaoil do sgiath oirnn, dion sinn uile. 

Mhoire ghradhach ! Mhathair Uain ghil, 
Cobhair oirnne ghlan Oigh na h-uaisleachd, 
Bhride bhuaidheach, bhuachaille nan treud, 
Cum ar cuallach, cuartaich sinn le cheil, 

Cum ar cuallach, cuartaich sinn le cheil. 




A Chaluim-chille, chairdeil, chaoimh, 
An ainm Athar, is Mic, is Spiorad Naoimh, 
Trid na Trithinn, trid na Triaid 
Comaraig sinn fein, gleidh ar triall, 

Comaraig sinn fein, gleidh ar triall. 

Athair ! a Mhic ! a Spioraid Naoimh ! 
Biodh an Trithinn leinn a la 's a dh' oidhche, 
'S air machair loim no air roinn nam beann 
Bidh an Trithinn leinn 's bidh a lamh mu V ceann, 

Bidh an Trithinn leinn 's bidh a lamh mu V ceann ! 



Iasgaieean Bharraidh — 

Athair ! a Mhic I a Spioraid Naoimh ! 
Bi-sa, Thrithinn, leinn a la 's a dh' oidhche, 
'S air chul nan tonn no air thaobh nam beann 
Bidh ar Mathair leinn 's bidh a lamh fo 'r ceann, 
'S air chul nan tonn no air thaobh nam beann 
Bidh ar Mathair leinn 's bidh a lamh fo V ceann ! 



SEASONS 193 



HYMN OF THE PROCESSION 

Valiant Michael of the wliite steeds, 
Who subdued the Dragon of blood, 
For love of God, for pains of Mary's Son, 
Spread thy wing over us, shield us all, 

Spread thy wing over us, shield us all. 

Mary beloved ! Mother of the White Lamb, 
Shield, oh shield us, pure Virgin of nobleness. 
And Bride the beauteous, shepherdess of the flocks. 
Safeguard thou our cattle, surround us together. 

Safeguard thou our cattle, surround us together. 

And Columba, beneficent, benign. 
In name of Father, and of Son, and of Spirit Holy, 
Through the Three-in-One, through the Trinity, 
Encompass thou ourselves, shield our procession. 

Encompass thou ourselves, shield our procession. 

O Father ! O Son ! O Spirit Holy ! 

Be the Triune with us day and night. 

On the machair plain or on the mountain ridge 

Be the Triune with us and His arm around our head, 

Be the Triune with us and His arm around our head. 

Babra Fishermen — 

O Father ! O Son ! O Spirit Holy ! 
Be thou, Three-One, with us day and night, 
And on the back of the wave as on the mountain side 
Our Mother shall be with us with her arm under our head. 
And on the back of the wave as on the mountain side 
Our Mother shall be with us with her arm under our head. 

N 



194 



AIMSIRE 



LA FEILL MOIRE 



[76] 



The Feast Day of Mary the Great is the 15th day of August. Early in the 
morning of this day the people go into their fields and pluck ears of corn, 
generally bare, to make the ' Moilean Moire.' These ears are laid on a rock 
exposed to the sun, to dry. When dry, they are husked in the hand, winnowed 
in a fan, ground in a quern, kneaded on a sheep-skin, and formed into a bannock, 
which is called ' Moilean Moire,' the falling of Mary. The bannock is toasted 
before a fire of fagots of rowan, or some other sacred wood. Then the 
husbandman breaks the bannock and gives a bit to his wife and to each of his 
children, in order according to their ages, and the family raise the 
' lolach Mhoire Mhathar,' the Paean of Mary Mother who promised 

A feill Moire cubhr, 

Mathair Buachaille nan treud, 
Bhuain mi beum dhe''n toradh ur, 
Chruadhaich mi e caon ri grein, 
Shuath mi e gu geur dlie 'n rusg 
Le mo bhasa fein. 

Mheil mi e air brath Ui-aoine, 
Dh' f huin mi e air era na caoire, 
Bhruich mi e ri aine caorain, 
S' phairtich mi c'n dail mo dhaoine. 




Chaidh mi deiseil m'' ardrach, 
An ainm Mhoire Mhathar, 
A gheall mo ghleidheadh, 
A rinn mo ghleidheadh, 
A ni mo ghleidheadh, 
Ann an sith, ann an ni, 
Ann am fireantas cridh, 



SEASONS 195 



THE FEAST DAY OF MARY 

to shield thera, and who did and will shield them from scath till the day of death. 
While singing thus, the family walk sxmwise round the fire, the father leading, 
the mother following, and the children following according to age. 

After going round the fire, the man puts the embers of the fagot-fire, with 
bits of old iron, into a pot, which he carries sunwise round the outside of his 
house, sometimes round his steadings and his fields, and his flocks gathered in 
for the purpose. He is followed without as within by his household, all singing 
the praise of Mary Mother the while. 

The scene is striking and picturesque, the family being arrayed in their 
brightest and singing their best. 

On the feast day of Mary the fragrant. 
Mother of the Shepherd of the flocks, 
I cut me a handful of the new corn, 
I dried it gently in the sun, 
I rubbed it sharply from the husk 
With mine own palms. 

I ground it in a quern on Friday, 
I baked it on a fan of sheep-skin, 
I toasted it to a fire of rowan, 
And I shared it round my people. 

I went sunways round my dwelling. 

In name of the Mary Mother, 

Who promised to preserve me, 

Who did preserve me, 

And who will preserve me, 

In peace, in flocks. 

In righteousness of heart, 



196 AIMSIRE 

Ann an gnionih, aiin an gradh, 
Ann am brigh, aim am baigh, 
Air sgath do Phais. 
A Chriosd a ghrais 
Gu la mo bhais 
Gu brath nach treig mi ! 
O gu la mo bhais 
Gu brath nach treiy; mi ! 



SEASONS 197 

111 labour, in love. 

In wisdom, in mercy. 

For the sake of Thy Passion. 

Thou Christ of grace 

AVho till the day of my death 

Wilt never forsake me ! 

Oh, till the day of my death 

Wilt never forsake me ! 



198 AIMSIRE 



MICHEAL NAM BUADH [77] 

St Michael is spoken of as 'brian Michael,' god Michael. 

' Bu tu gaisgeach na raisnich Thou wert the warrior of courage 

Dol air astar na fiosachd, Going on the journey of prophecy, 

Is tu nach siubhladhaircriplich. Thou wouldst not travel on a cripple, 

Ghabh thu steud briain Micheil, Thou didst take the steed of the god Michael, 

E gun chabstar na shliopan. He was without bit in his mouth, 

Thu mharcachd air iteig. Thou didst ride him on the wing, 

Leum thu thairis air fiosrachadh Thou didst leap over the knowledge of 
Naduir.' Nature. 

St Michael is the Neptune of the Gael. He is the patron saint of the sea, and 
of maritime lands, of boats and boatmen, of horses and horsemen throughout the 
West. As patron saint of the sea St Michael had temples dedicated to him round 
the coast wherever Celts were situated. Examples of these are Mount St Michael 
in Brittany and in Cornwall, and Aird Michael in South and in North Uist, and 
elsewhere. Probably Milton had this phase of St Michael's character in view. 
As patron saint of the land St Michael is represented riding a milk-white steed, 
a three-pronged spear in his right hand and a three-cornered shield in his left. 
The shield is inscribed ' Quis ut Deus,' a literal translation of the Hebrew 
Mi-cha-el. Britannia is substituted for the archangel on sea and St George 
on land. 

On the 29th of September a festival in honour of St Michael is held throughout 
the Western Coasts and Isles. This is much the most imposing pageant and 
much the most popular demonstration of the Celtic year. Many causes conduce 
to this — causes which move the minds and the hearts of the people to their utmost 
tension. To the young the Day is a day of promise, to the old a day of fulfil- 
ment, to the aged a day of retrospect. It is a day when pagan cult and Christian 
doctrine meet and mingle like the lights and shadows on their own Highland hills. 

The Eve of St Michael is the eve of bringing in the carrots, of baking the 
' struan," of killing the lamb, of stcahng the horses. The Day of St Michael is 
the Day of the early mass, the day of the sacrificial lamb, the day of the 
oblation 'strQan,' the day of the distribution of the lamb, the day of the 
distribution of the 'struan,' the day of the pilgrimage to the burial-ground of 
their fathers, the day of the burial-ground service, the day of the burial-ground 
circuiting, the day of giving and receiving the carrots with their wishes and 
acknowledgments, and the day of the ' oda ' — tlie athletics of the men and the 
racing of the horses And the Night of Michael is the night of the dance and 
the song, of the merry-making, of the love-making, and of the love-gifts. 

Several weeks previously the people begin to speak of St Michael's Day, and 



SEASONS 199 

to prepare for St Michael's Festival. Those concerned count whose turn it will 
be to guard the crops on St Michael's Day and to circuit the townland on St 
Michael's Night. The young men upon whom tliese duties fall arrange with old 
men to take their place on these occasions. As the time approaches the interest 
intensifies, culminating among the old in much bustle, and among the young in 
keen excitement. 

Three plants which the people call carrots grow in Uist — the ' daucus carota,' 
the ' daucus maritimus,' and the ' conium.' The ' daucus carota ' is the original 
of the cultivated carrot. The ' daucus maritimus ' is a long slender carrot, 
much like the parsnip in appearance and in flavour, and is rare in the British 
Isles. The ' conium,' hemlock, resembles the carrot, for which it is occasionally 
mistaken. It is hard, acrid, and poisonous. 

Some days before the festival of St Michael the women and girls go to the 
fields and plains of the townland lo procure carrots. The afternoon of the 
Sunday immediately preceding St Michael's Day is specially devoted to this 
purpose, and on this account is known as ' Domhnach Curran ' — Carrot Sunday. 
When the soil is soft and friable, the carrots can be pulled out of the ground 
without digging. When, however, the soil is hard, a space is dug to give the 
hand access to the root. This space is made in the form of an equal-sided 
triangle, technically called ' torcan,' diminutive of ' tore,' a cleft. The instrument 
used is a small mattock of three prongs, called ' tri-meurach,' three-fingered, 
' sliopag,' 'sHobhag.' The three-sided 'torcan' is meant to typify the three- 
sided shield, and the three-fingered ' sliopag,' the trident of St Michael, and 
possibly each to symbolise the Trinity. The many brightly-clad figures moving 
to and fro, in and out, like the figures in a kaleidoscope, are singularly pretty 
and picturesque. Each woman intones a rune to her own tune and time 
irrespective of those around her. The following fragment was intoned to me in 
a soft, subdued voice by a woman who had gathered carrots eighty years 
previously : — 

' Torcan torrach, torrach, torracli. Cleft fruitful, fruitful, fruitful, 

Sonas curran corr orm, Joy of carrots surpassing upon rae, 

Michael rail a bhi dha m" chonuil, Michael the brave endowing me. 

Bride gheal dha m' chonradh. Bride the fair be aiding me. 

Piseach linn gach piseach. Progeny pre-eminent over every progeny, 

Piseach dha mo bhroinn. Progeny on my womb, 

Piseach linn gach piseach. Progeny pre-eminent over every progeny, 

Piseach dha mo chloinn.' Progeny on my progeny. 

Should a woman find a forked carrot, she breaks out into a more exultant 
strain that brings her neighbours round to see and to admire her luck. 
' Fhorca shona, shona, shona. Fork joyful, joyful, joyful, 

Fhorca churran mor orm. Fork of great carrot to me, 

Conuil curran corr orm Endowment of carrot surpassing upon me, 

Sonas curran mor dhomh.' Joy of great carrot to me. 



200 AIMSIRE 

There is much rivalry among the women who shall have most and best 
carrots. They carry the carrots in a bag slung from the waist, called 
'crioslachan,' little girdle, from 'crios,' a girdle. When the 'earrasaid' was 
worn, the carrots were carried in its ample folds. The women wash the carrots 
and tie them up in small bunches, each of which contains a ' glac,' handful. 
The bunches are tied with three-ply thread, generally scarlet, and put in pits 
near the houses and covered with sand till required. 

The people do not retire to rest on the Eve of St Michael. The women are 
engaged all night on baking ' struain,' on household matters, and on matters 
personal to themselves and to others, while the men are out and in watching 
their horses in the fields and stables. It is permissible on this night to 
appropriate a horse, wherever found and by whatever means, on which to 
make the pilgrimage and to perform the circuiting. 

' Meirle eich na Feill Micheil, Theft of horse of the Feast of Michael, 

Meirle nach do dhiteadh riamh.' Theft that never was condemned. 

The people act upon this ancient privilege and steal horses without com- 
punction, owners and stealers watching and outwitting and circumventing one 
another. It is obhgatory to leave one horse with the owner to carry himself 
and his wife on the pilgrimage and to make the circuiting, but this may be the 
worst horse in the townland. No apology is offered or expected for this 
appropriation provided the horse be returned uninjured ; and even if it be 
injured, no adequate redress is obtained. The Eve of St Michael is thus known 
as ' feasgar faire nan steud,' the evening of watching the steeds ; ' feasgar 
furachaidh nan each,' the evening of guarding the horses ; * oidhche crothaidh 
nan capull,' the night of penning the mares ; ' oidhche glasadh nan each,' tlie 
night of locking the horses — hence also ' glasadh na Feill Micheil,' the locking 
of the Feast of Michael. A male lamb, without spot or blemish, is slain. This 
lamb is called ' Uan Micheil,' the Michael Lamb. 

A cake called ' struan Micheil ' is made of all the cereals grown on the farm 
during the year. It represents the fruits of the field, as the lamb represents the 
fruits of the flocks. Oats, here, and rye are the only cereals grown in the Isles. 
These are fanned on the floor, ground in the quern, and their meal in equal 
parts used in the struan. The struan sliould contain a peck of meal, and should 
be baked on ' uinicinn,' a lamb-skin. The meal is moistened with sheep's milk, 
the sheep being deemed the most sacred animal. For this purpose the ewes 
are retained in milk till St Michael's Eve, after which tliey are allowed to 
remain in the hill and to run dry. The struan is baked by the eldest daughter 
of the family, guided by her mother, and assisted by her eager sisters. As she 
moistens the meal with the milk the girl softly says — 

' Ruth agus rath an treo. Progeny and prosperity of family. 

Run MhicheU, dion an Teor.' Mystery of Michael, protection of Trinity. 



SEASONS 201 

A ' leac stiuain,' struan flag, brought by the young men of the family from 
the moorland during the day, is securely set on edge before the fire, and the 
* struan ' is set on edge against it. The fire should be of ' crionach caon,' sacred 
fagots, such as the fagots of the oak, the rowan, the bramble, and others. The 
blackthorn, \vild fig, trembling aspen, and other ' crossed ' wood are avoided. 
As the ' struan ' gains consistency, three successive layers of a batter of cream, 
eggs, and butter are laid on each side alternately. The batter ought to be 
put on with three tail feathers of a cockerel of the year, but in Uist this is 
generally done with ' badan murain,' a small bunch of bent-grass. This cake is 
called ' struan treo,' family struan ; ' struan mor,' large struan, and ' struan 
comachaidh,' communal struan. Small struans are made for individual 
members of the family by mothers, daughters, sisters, and trusted servants. 
These are known as ' struain beag,' little struans ; ' struain cloinne,' children's 
struans, and by the names of those for whom they are made. If a member of 
the family be absent or dead, a struan is made in his or her name. This struan 
is shared among the family and special friends of the absent one in his or her 
name, or given to the poor who have no corn of their own. In mixing the meal 
of the individual struan, the woman kneading it mentions the name of the 
person for whom it is being made. 

' Ruth agus rath Dhorabnuill, Progeny and prosperity to Donald, 

Run Mhicheil, dion an Domhnaich.' Mystery of Michael, shielding of the Lord. 

The individual struans of a family are uniform in size but irregular in form, 
some being three-<;ornered, symbolic of the Trinity ; some five, symbolic: of the 
Trinity, with Mary and Joseph added ; some seven, symbolic of the seven 
mysteries ; some nine, symbolic of the nine archangels ; and some round, 
symbolic of eternity. Various ingredients are introduced into the small struans, 
as cranberries, bilberries, brambleberries, carrayway seed, and wild honey. 
Those who make them and those for whom they are made vie with their friends 
who shall have the best and most varied ingredients. Many cautions are given 
to her who is making the struan to tiike exceptional care of it. Ills and evils 
innumerable would befall herself and her house should any mishap occur to the 
struan. Should it break before being fired, it betokens ill to the girl baking it ; 
if after being fired and before being used, to the household. Were the struan 
fiag to faU and the struan with it, the omen is full of evil augury to the family. 
A broken struan is not used. The ' fallaid,' dry meal remaining on the baking- 
board after the struan Is made, is put into a ' mogan,' footless stocking, and 
dusted over the flocks on the following day — being the Day of Michael — to 
bring them ' piseach agus pailteas agus pronntachd,' progeny and plenty and 
prosperity, and to ward from them ' suileachd agus ealtraidh agus dosgaidh,' 
evil-eye, mischance, and murrain. Occasionally the ' fallaid ' is preserved for 
a year and a day before being used. 

On the morning of the Feast of Michael all within reach go to early mass. 



202 AIMSIRE 

They take their striians witli them to church to be blessed of the ' pears eaglais,' 
priest. At this festal service the priest exhorts the people to praise their 
guardian angel Michael for his leading and their Father God for His corn and 
wool, fruits of the field and fruits of the flocks, which He has bestowed on 
them, while the foodless and the fatherless among them are commended to the 
fatherhood of God and to the care of His people. 

On returning from mass the people take the ' biadh Micheil,' Michael food, 
' biadh maidne Micheil,' Michael morning food. The father of the family- 
places the stman ' air bord co gile ri cailc na fuinn no ri sneachda nam beann ' — 
on a board as white as the chalk of the rock or the snow of the hill. He then 
takes 

' Sgian gheur, ghlan, A knife keen, true, 

Gun smal, gun smur. Without stain, without dust. 

Gun sal, gun sur. Without smear, without flaw. 

Gun mhur, gun raheirg,' Without grime, without rust, 

and having made the sign of the cross of Christ on the tablet of his face, the 
man cuts the struan into small sections, retaining in the parts the form of the 
whole. And he cuts up the lamb into small pieces. He places the board with 
the bread and the flesh on the centre of the table. Then the family, standing 
round, and holding a bit of struan in the left hand and a piece of lamb in the 
right, raise the ' lolach Micheil,' triumphal song of Michael, in praise of 
Michael, who guards and guides them, and in praise of God, who gives them 
food and clothing, health, and blessing withal. The man and his wife put 
struan into one ' coisan,' beehive basket, and lamb into another, and go out to 
distribute them among the poor of the neighbourhood who have no fruits nor 
flocks themselves. Nor is this all. ' Ta e iumachaidh gun toireadh gach 
tuathanach anns a bhaile La na Feill Micheil peic mine, ceathramh struain, 
ceathramh uanail, ceathramh caise agus platar ime dha na buichd, agus dha na 
deoiridh, agus dha na diolacha-deirce truagha, agus dha na diblidh agus dha na 
dilleachdain gun clili, gun treoir, cruthaichte ann an cruth an Athar shiorriudh. 
Agus tha an duine a toir so seachad air mhiodh Mhicheil mar nasga deirce do 
Dhia treun nan dul a thug dha ni agus ciob, ith agus iodh, buaidh agus pais, fas 
agus cinneas a chum agus gu'm bi e roimh anam diblidh truagh an trath theid 
e null. Agus togaidh na buichd agus na deoiridh agus na diolacha-deirce 
truagha, agus na dilleachdain gun chli, gun treoir, agus togaidh na truaghain 
an lolach Micheil a toir cliu agus moladh do Mhicheil min-gheal nam buadh 
agus do'n Athair uile-bhcannaichte, uile-churahachdach, a beannachadh an 
duine agus na mnatha 'n am mic agus 'n an nighean 'n an cuid 'n an cliu 'n an 
crannachar 'n an ni agus 'n an ciob, ann an toradh an tan agus ann an toradh 
an talamhan. Is iad so am muinntir ris an canair " na feara fiala," " na feara 
cneasda," agus " na ranathan matha " " ria mnathan coire," a ta deanamh 
comhnadh agus trocair air na boichd, agus air na deoiridh, air na diblidh, agus 
air na dirabidh, air na diolacha-deirce truagha agus air na dilleachdain gun chli. 



SEASONS 203 

gun treoir, gun chul-tacsa, gun lorg bhrollaich, gun sgora-cuil, cruthaichte ann 
an cruth an Athar uile-chruthachaidh. Agus tha ainglean gile-ghil De agus an 
cas ri barracha biod, an suil ri bunnacha bachd, an cluas ri fonnacha fuinn, an 
sgiathan a sgaireanaich an colann a critheanaich a feitheainh ri fios a chur mu'n 
ghniorah le buille dhe 'n sgeitli a clion Righ na Catliair shiorruidh.' 

' It is proper that every husbandman in the towuland should give, on the 
day of the St Michael Feast, a peek of meal, a qviarter of struan, a quarter of 
lamb, a quarter of cheese, and a platter of butter to the poor and forlorn, to the 
despised and dejected, to the alms-deserving, and to the orphans without pith, 
without power, formed in the image of the Father everlasting. And the man 
is giving this on the beam of Michael as an offering to the great God of the 
elements who gave him cattle and sheep, bread and corn, power and peace, 
growth and prosperity, that it may be before his abject, contrite soul when it 
goes thither. And the miserable, the poor, the tearful, the alms-deserving 
helpless ones, and the orphan, will raise the triumphal song of Michael, giving 
fame and laud to Michael, the fair hero of power, and to the Father all-blessed 
and powerful, blessing the man and the woman in their sons and in their 
daughters, in their means, fame, and lot, in their cattle, and in their sheep, in 
the produce of their herds, and in the produce of their lands. These are 
the people who are called " the humane men," " the compassionate men," and 
" the good women," " the generous women," who are taking mercy and 
compassion on the poor, and on the tearful, on the dejected and the despised, 
on the miserable alms-deserving, and on the orphans without pith, without 
power, without support, without breast-st;i£f, without leaning-rod, formed in the 
image of the Father all-creative. And the surpassingly white angels of God, 
with their foot on tiptoe, their eye on the horizon, their ear on the ground, their 
wings flapping, their bodies trembling, are waiting to send announcement of 
the deed with a beat of their wings to the King of the throne everlasting.' 

After the father and mother have distributed their gifts to the poor, the 
family mount their horses and set out on their pilgrimage to perform the 
circuiting of St Michael's burying-ground. None remain at home save the very 
old and the very young, to whom is assigned for the day the duty of tending 
the sheep, herding the cattle, and guarding the corn. The husband and wife 
ride on one horse, with probably a boy astride before the father and a girl 
sideways beside the mother, filling up the measure of the horse's capacity. \ 
girl sits ' culag ' behind her brother, or occasionally behind the brother of 
another girl, with her arm round him to steady her. A little girl sits ' bialag ' 
in front of a brother, with his hand lovingly round her waist, while with his 
other hand he guides the horse. A little brother sits ' culag ' behind his elder 
brother, with his two arras round him. The people of the different hills, glens, 
islands, and townlands join the procession on the way, and all travel along 
together, the crowded cavalcade gaily clad in stuffs and stripes and tartans 
whose fineness of texture and brilliancy of colouring are charming to see, is 



204 AIMSIRE 

impossible to describe. The air is full of salutations and cordialities. Even the 
whinnying, neighing, restive horses seem to know and to feel that tliis is the 
Day of their patron saint the holy archangel. 

' Micheal mil nan steuda geala The valiant Michael of the white steeds 

Choisin cios air dragon fala.' Who subdued the dragon of blood. 

On reaching their destination the people crowd into and round the simple 
prayer-house. The doors and windows of the little oratory are open, and the 
people kneeling without join those kneeling within in earnest suppUcation that 
all may go well with them for the day. And commending themselves and 
their horses to the leading of the valiant, glorious archangel of the cornered 
shield and flaming sword, the people remount their horses to make ' cuart- 
achadh a chlaidh,' the circuiting of the burial ground. The great crowd starts 
from the east and follows the course of the sun in the name of God, in the 
name of Christ, in the name of Spirit. The priest leads the way riding on a 
white horse, his grey hair and white robe waving in the autumn breeze. Should 
there be more than one priest present they ride abreast. Should there be 
higher dignitaries they ride in front of, or between the priests. The people 
follow in a column from two to ten abreast. Those on horseback follow 
immediately behind the priest, those on foot behind these. The fathers of 
the different townlands are stationed at intervals on either side of the procession, 
to maintain regularity and to guard against accidents. All are imbued with 
a befitting reverence for the solemnity of the proceedings and of the occasion. 
Families, friends, and neighbours try to keep together in the processional 
circuiting. As they move from left to right the people raise the ' lolach 
Micheil,' song of Michael the victorious, whose sword is keen to smite, and 
whose arm is strong to save. At the end of the circuit the ' culag ' gives to her 
' bialag,' 'glac churran,' a handful of carrots, saying : — 

' Ruth agus rath air do laighe 's Progeny and prosperity on thy lying and 
eirigh.' rising. 

The ' bialag ' acknowledges the gift in one of the many phrases common on 
the occasion : — 

* Piseach agus pais air an lamh a thug. Progeny and peace on the hand that gave. 

For agus pais dha mo ghradh a thug. Issue and peace on my love who gave. 

Piseach agus ]milteas gun an aire na Progeny and plenty without scarcity in 

d'chomhnuidh. thy dwelling. 

Banas agus brioghas dha mo nighinn Wifehood and motherhood on my brown 

duinn. maid. 

Baireas agus buaidh dha mo luaidh Endowment and prosperity to my love 

a thug. ' who gave. 

Greetings, courtesies, and gifts are exchanged among the people, many of 
whom have not met since they met at the circuiting. The most prized courtesy, 



SEASONS 205 

however, is a ' culag ' round the burial-ground, and the most prized gift is a 
carrot with its customary wishes and acknowledgments. Those who have 
no horses readily obtain them to make the circuiting, the consideration of those 
who have for those who have not being native and habitual. 

Having performed the professional pilgrimage round the graves of their 
fathers, the people hasten to the 'oda' — the scene of the athletics of the men 
and the racing of the horses. The games and races excite much interest. The 
riders in the races ride without bonnet, without shoes, clothed only in a shirt 
and ' triubhais bheag,' small trews like football trousers. All ride without 
saddle, some without bridle, guiding and driving their horses with 'steamhag 
chaol chruaidh,'a hard slender tangle in each hand. Occasionally girls compete 
with one another and sometimes with men. They sit on either side as may be 
most convenient in mounting. They have no saddle, and how they retain their 
seat is inconceivable. Some circuiting goes on all day, principally among the 
old and the young— the old teaching the young the mysteries of the circuiting 
and the customs of the olden times. Here and there young men and maidens 
ride about and wander away, converting the sandy knolls and grassy deUs of 
the fragrant ' raachair ' into Arcadian plains and Eden groves. 

On the night of St Michael a ' cuideachd,' ball, is held in every lownland. 
The leading piper selects the place for the ball, generally the house of largest 
size and of evenest floor. Every man present contributes a sixpence, or its 
equivalent in farm produce, usually in grain, towards ])aying the piper if he be 
.a married man ; if not, he accepts nothing. Several pipers, fiddlers, and players 
of other instruments relieve one another during the night. The small bets won 
at the ' oda ' during the day are spent at the ball during the night, no one being 
allowed to retain his luck. 

The women put their bunches of carrots into white Unen bags with the mark 
of the owner. Having filled their ' crioslachain,' they leave the bags in some 
house convenient to the ' taigh dannsa,' dance-house. As their ' crioslachain ' 
become empty during the night they replenish them from the ' falachain,' 
hidden store. When a woman comes into the dance-house after refilling her 
' crioslachain,' she announces her entrance with a rhyme, the refrain of which is — 
' 'S ann agam fein a bhiodh na currain. It is I myself that have the carrots, 
Ga be co bhuinneadh bhuam iad.' Whoever he be that would win them from rac. 

' 'S ann agam fein a bhiodh an ulaidh. It is I myself that have the treasure, 
Ge be 'n curaidh bheireadh bhuam e. ' Whoso the hero coidd take them from rae. 

At the circuiting by day and at the ball at night, youths and maidens 
exchange simple gifts in token of good feeling. The girls give the men bonnets, 
hose, garters, cravats, purses, plaids, and other things of their own making, 
and the men give the girls brooches of silver, brass, bronze, or copper, knives, 
scissors, snoods, combs, mirrors, and various other things. Some of these gifts 
are mentioned in the following verses : — 



206 AIMSIRE 

'NAGEALLAIDH THE PROMISES 

' Thug mo leannan dhomh sgian bheag My lover gave to me a knife 

A ghearradh am meangan goid. That would cut the sapling withe, 

A ghearradh am bog 's an cniaidli. That would cut the soft and hard, 

Saoghal buan dh' an laimh a thug. Long live the hand that gave. 

Gheall mo leannan dhomh-sa stiom My lover promised me a snood, 

Gheall, agus braiste 's cir. Ay, and a brooch and comb, 

'S gheall mise coinneamh ris And I promised, by the wood. 

Am bun a phris mu'n eireadh grian. To meet him at rise of sun. 

Gheall mo leannan dhomh-sa sgathan My lover promised me a mirror 

Anns am faicinn m'aille fein. That my beauty I might see, 

Gheall, agus breid is fainne. Yes, and a coif and ring, 

Agus clarsach bhinn nan tend. And a dulcet harp of chords. 

Gheall e sid dhomh 's buaile bha, He vowed me those and a fold of kine, 

Agus falaire nan steud. And a palfrey of the steeds, 

Agus birlinn bheannach blian. And a barge, pinnacled white, 

Readhadh slan thar chuan nam beud. That would safely cross the perilous seas. 

Mile beannachd, mile buaidh A thousand blessings, a thousand victories 

Dha mo luaidh a dh'fhalbh an de. To my lover who left me yestreen. 

Thug e dhomh-sa 'n gealladh buan. He gave to me the promise lasting. 

Gum b'e Bhuachaill-san Mac Dhe.' Be his Shepherd God's own Son. 

The song and the dance, the mirth and the merriment, are continued all 
night, many curious scenes being acted, and many curious dances performed, 
some of them in character. These scenes and dances are indicative of far-away 
times, perhaps of far-away climes. They are evidently symbolic. One dance 
is called ' Cailleach an Dudain.' carhn of the mill-dust. This is a curious 
character-dance. The writer got it performed for hira several times. 

It is danced by a man and a woman. The man has a rod in his right hand, 
variously called ' slachdan druidheachd,' druidic wand, ' slachdan geasachd,' 
magic wand. The man and the woman gesticulate and attitudinise before one 
another, dancing round and round, in and out, crossing and recrossing, changing 
and exchanging places. The man flourishes the wand over his own head and 
over the head of the woman, whom he touches with the wand, and who falls 
down, as if dead, at his feet. He bemoans his dead ' carlin,' dancing and 
gesticulating roimd her body. He then lifts up her left hand, and looking into 
the palm, breathes upon it, and touches it with the wand. Immediately the 
limp hand becomes alive and moves from side to side and up and down. The 
man rejoices, and dances round the figure on the floor. And having done the 
same to the right hand, and to the left and right foot in succession, they also 
become alive and move. But although the limbs are living, the body is still 
inert. The man kneels over the woman and breathes into her mouth and 
touches her heart with the wand. The woman comes to life and springs up, 
confronting the man. Then the two dance vigorously and joyously as in the 
first part. The tune varies with the varying phases of the dance. It is played 



SEASONS 207 

by a piper or a fiddler, or sung as a ' port-a-bial,' month tune, by a looker-on, 
or by the performers themselves. The air is (juaint and irregular, and the 
words are curious and archaic. 

In his Went HUjhland Tales, Iain F. Campbell of Islay mentions that he saw 
' cailleach an dudain ' danced in the house of Lord Stanley of Alderley. He 
does not say by whom it was danced, but probably it was by the gifted narrator 
himself. In October 1871, Mr Campbell spent some time with the writer and 
his wife in Uist. When driving him to Lochraaddy, at the conclusion of his 
stay, I mentioned that there were two famous dancers of ' caUleach an dudain ' 
at Clachan-a-ghluip. We went to their bothy, but they were away. The 
neighbours told us that they were in the direction of Lochmaddy. When we 
reached there we went in search of tliem, but were unsuccessful. Some hours 
afterwards, as I was coming up from tlic shore after seeing Mr Campbell on 
board the packet for Dunvegan, I saw the two women riicing down the hill, 
their long hair and short dresses flying wildly in the wind. They had heard 
that we had been inquiring for them. But it was too late. The packet, with 
Mr Campbell on board, was already hoisting her sails and heaving her anchor. 

Another dance is called ' cath nan coileach,' the combat of the cocks ; 
another, ' turraban nan tunnag,' waddling of the ducks ; another, ' ruidhleadh 
nan coileach dubha,' reeling of the black-cocks; another, 'cath nan curaidh,' 
contest of the warriors, where a Celtic Saul slays his thousands, and a Celtic 
David his tens of thousands. Many dances now lost were danced at the St 
Michael ball, while those that still remain were danced with much more artistic 
complexity. The sword-dance was performed in eight sections instead of in 
four, as now. The reel of TuUoch was danced in eight figures with side issues, 
while ' seann triubhas ' contained much more acting than it does now. Many 
beautiful and curious songs, now lost, were sung at these balls. 

The young people who have individual ' struans ' give and receive and 
share them the night through, till sleep overcomes all. 

Chiefs and chieftains, tacksmen and tenants, men and women, old and 
young, rich and poor, mingle in the pilgrimage, in the service, in the circuiting, 
in the games and races, in the dancing and the merry-making. The granddame 
of eighty and the granddaughter of eight, the grandsire of ninety and the 
grandson of nine, all take much interest in the festival of St Michael. The old 
and the young who do not go to the ball entertain one another at their homes, 
exchanging 'struans 'and carrots and homely gifts in token of friendship and 
neighbourUness. The pilgrimage, the service, the circuiting, and the games 
and races of the ' oda,' once so popular in the Western Isles, are now become 
obsolete. The last circuiting with service was performed in South Uist in 1820. 
It took place as usual round Cladli Mhicheil, the burial-ground of Michael, near 
the centre of the island. The last great ' oda ' in North Uist was in 1SC6, and 
took place on the customary spot, ' Traigh Mhoire,' the strand of Mary, on the 
west side of the island. 



208 AIMSIRE 

' Ach dh'fhalbh sud uile mar bhruadar. But all that has gone like a vision, 
Mar bhriseadh builgean air uachdar Like the breaking of a bubble on the 
nan tonn.' surface of the sea. 

The Michael lamb is sometimes slain, the Michael ' strfian ' is sometimes 
baked, and the carrots are occasionally gathered, but the people can give no 
account of their significance. Probably the lamb and the ' struan ' represented 
the first-fruits of the flock and the fields, the circuiting and the sun-warding, 
ancestor-worship and sun-worship, and the carrots of the west the mandrakes 
of the east, 'given in the time of the wheat-harvest.' 

The wives of husbandmen carried ' strfians ' to the castles of the chiefs, and 
to the houses of the gentlemen in their neighbourhood, as marks of good-will. 
This was one of the many links in the social chain which bound chief and 
clansmen, proprietor and tenant together. In the past the chiefs and gentlemen 
and their families joined the people in their festivals, games and dances, secular 
amusement? and religious observances, joys and sorrows, to the great good of 
all and to the stability of society. In the present, as a rule, the proprietors and 
gentlemen of the Highlands and Islands are at the best but temporary residents, 
if so much, and generally strangers in blood and speech, feeling and sympathy, 
more prone to criticise than to help, to scoff than to sympathise. As a result, 
the observances of the people have fallen into disuse, to the loss of the spiritual 
life of the country, and of the patriotic life of the nation. 

Throughout the Highlands and Islands special cakes were made on the first 
day of the quarter. As in the case of the ' struan,' a large cake was made for 
the family and smaller cakes for individual members. So far as can now be 



MICHEAL NAM BUADH 

HICHEIL nam buadh, 
Cuartam fo d' dhion, 
A Mhicheil nan steud gea], 
'S nan leug lanna liomh, 
Fhir bhuadhaich an dreagain, 
13i fein ri nio chul, 
Fhir-chuartach nan speura, 
Fhir-feachd Righ nan dul, 
A Mhicheil nam buadh, 
M' uaill agus m' iuil, 
A Mhicheil nam buadh, 
Suamhnas mo shul. 




SEASONS 209 

ascertained, these cakes were round in form. They were named after their 
dedications. That baked for the first day of spring was called ' bonnach Bride,' 
bannock of Bride ; that for the first day of summer, ' bonnach Bealltain,' Beltane 
bannock ; that for the first day of autumn, ' bonnach Lunastain, Lammas 
bannock ; and that for the first day of winter, ' bonnach Samhthain,' Hallowtide 
bannock. The names of the individual cakes were rendered into diminutives to 
distinguish them from the family cake, while the sex of the person for whom 
they were intended was indicated by the termination, as ' Bridean,' mascuhnc 
diminutive, ' Brideag,' feminine diminutive, after Bride ; ' Bealltan,' ' Bealltag,' 
after Beltane ; ' Luinean,''Luineag,' after Lammas ; and 'Samhnan,''Samhnag,' 
after Hallowmas. The people repaired to the fields, glens, and corries to eat 
their quarter cakes. When eating them, they threw a piece over each shoulder 
alternately, saying : ' Here to thee, wolf, spare my sheep ; there to thee, fox, 
spare my lambs ; here to thee, eagle, spare my goats ; there to thee, raven, 
spare my kids ; here to thee, marten, spare my fowls ; there to thee, harrier, 
spare my chickens.' 

As may be seen from some of the poems, the duty of conveying the souls 
of the good to the abode of bliss is assigned to Michael. When the soul has 
parted from the body and is being weighed, the archangel of heaven and the 
archangel of hell preside at the beam, the former watching that the latter does 
not put ' cruidhean laimhe na spuir coise an coir na meidlie,' claw of hand nor 
talon of foot near the beam. Michael and all the archangels and angels of 
heaven sing songs of joy when the good in the soul outweighs the bad, while the 
devil howls as he retreats. 



MICHAEL, THE VICTORIOUS 

Thou Michael the victorious, 
I make my circuit under thy shield, 
Thou Michael of the white steed, 
And of the bright brilliant blades, 
Conqueror of the dragon, 
Be thou at my back, 
Thou ranger of the heavens. 
Thou warrior of the King of all, 
O Michael the victorious, 
My pride and my guide, 
O Michael the victorious, 
The glory of mine eye. 



210 AIMSIRE 

Deanam an cuarta 
An cluanas mo naomh. 
Air machair, air cluan domh, 
Air fuar-bheanna fraoch ; 
Ged shiubhlam an cuan 
'S an cruaidh cruinne-ce 
Cha deifir domh gu sior 
'S mi fo dhidionn do sgeith ; 

A Mhicheal nam buadh, 

M' ailleagan ere, 

A Mhicheil nam buadh, 

Buachaille De. 

Tri Naomh na Gloire 
Bhith 'n comhnuidh rium reidh, 
Ri m' eachraidh, ri m' lochraidh, 
Ri cioba cloimh an trend. 
Am barr ta fas air raona 
No caonachadh an raoid. 
Air machair no air mointeach, 
An toit, an torr, no an cruach. 
Gach ni tha'n aird no'n iosal, 
Gach insridh agus buar, 
'S le Trithinn naomh na gloire, 
Agus Micheal corr nam buadh. 



SEASONS 211 

I make my circuit 
In the fellowship of my saint. 
On the machair, on the meadow, 
On the cold heathery hill ; 
Though I should travel ocean 
And the hard globe of the world 
No harm can e'er befall me 
'Neath the shelter of thy shield ; 

O Michael the victorious, 

Jewel of my heart, 

O Michael the victorious, 

God's shepherd thou art. 

Be the sacred Three of Glory 

Aye at peace with me. 

With my horses, with my cattle. 

With my woolly sheep in Hocks. 

With the crops growing in the field 

Or ripening in the sheaf. 

On the machair, on the moor. 

In cole, in heap, or stack. 

Every thing on high or low. 

Every furnishing and flock, 

Belong to the holy Triune of glory, 

And to Michael the victorious. 



212 



AIMSIRE 



AN BEANNACHADH STRUAIN [78] 



ACH mill tha fo m' chleibh, 
Theid am measgadh le cheil, 
An ainin Mhic De, 
Thug fas daibli. 

Bainn is uibheann is im, 
Sochair mhath ar cuid fhin, 
Cha bhi gainiie 'n ar tir, 
No 'n ar fardaich. 




An ainm Mhicheil mo luaidh, 
Dh' fhag againn a bhuaidh, 
Le beannachd an Uain, 
'S a Mhathar. 

Umhlaieh sinn aig do stol, 
Biodh do chuniraig fein oirnn, 
Cum uainn fuath, fath, foirn, 
Agus gleidh sinn. 

Coisrig toradh ar tir, 
Bairig sonas is sith, 
An ainm an Athar an Righ, 
'S nan tri ostal gradhach. 



Bearnan bride, creamh min, 
Lus-mor, glasrach is slim, 
Na tri ghroigeanan-cinn, 
Is lus Mairi, 



SEASONS 213 



THE BLESSING OF THE ' STRUAN ' 

Each meal beneath my roof, [wattle 

They will all be mixed together, 
In name of God the Son, 

Who gave them growth. 

Milk, and eggs, and butter. 
The good produce of our own flock. 
There shall be no dearth in our land, 
Nor in our dwelling. 

In name of Michael of my love, 
Who bequeathed to us the power, 
With the blessing of the Lamb, 
And of His Mother. 

Humble us at thy footstool, 
Be thine own sanctuary around us. 
Ward from us spectre, sprite, oppression. 
And preserve us. 

Consecrate the produce of our land. 
Bestow prosperity and peace, 
In name of the Father the King, 

And of the three beloved apostles. 

Dandelion, smooth garlic. 
Foxglove, woad, and butterwort. 
The three carle-doddies, 
And marigold. 



214 AIMSIRE 



Cailpeach ghlas air a buain, 
Seachd-mhiarach, seachd uair, 
lubhar-beinne, fraoch ruadh, 
Agus madar. 

Cuiream uisge orr gu leir, 

An ainm usga Mhic De, 

An ainm IVIhuire na feil, 

Agus Phadruig. 

D'uair shuidheas sinn sios 
Gu gabhail ar biadh, 
Cratham an ainme Dhia 
Air na paisdean. 



SEASONS 215 

Gray ' cailpeach ' plucked. 
The seven-pronged seven times, 
The mountain yew, ruddy heath, 
And madder. 

I will put water on them all. 
In precious name of the Son of God, 
In name of Mary the generous. 
And of Patrick. 

When we shall sit down 
To take our food, 
I will sprinkle in the name of God 
On the children. 



216 AIMSIRE 



DUAN AN DOMHNUICH [79] 

This poem was obtained from Janet Currie, Staonabrig, South Uist, a descendant 
of the Mac Mhuirichs (corrupted into Currie) of Staohgearry, the famous poet- 
historians to the Clanranalds. She was a tall, strong, dark-haired, ruddy- 
complexioned woman, with a clear, sonorous voice. Her 

UAN an Domhnuicli, a Dhe ghil, 

Firinn fo neart Chriosd a chomhnuidh. 




Di-domhnuich rugadh Muire, 
Mathair Chriosd an or-fhuilt bhuidhe, 
^ Di-domhnuich rugadh Criosda 
Mar onair dhaoine. 

Di-domhnuich, an seachdamh latha, 
Dh' orduich Dia gu fois a ghabhail, 
Gu cumail na beath-maireannaich. 
Gun feum a thoir a damli no duine, 
No a creubh mar dheonaich Muire, 
Gun sniamh snath sioda no strol, 
Gun fuaigheal, gun ghreiseadh ni's mo, 
Gun churachd, gun chliathadh, gun bhuain, 
Gun iomaradh, gun iomairt, gun iasgaireachd, 
Gun dol a mach dh' an t-sliabh sheilg. 
Gun snaitheadh deilgne Di-domhnuich, 
Gun chartadh taighe, gun bhualadh. 
Gun atha, gun mhuileann Di-domhnuich. 

Ge be chumadh an Domhnuch, 
Bu chomhnard da-san 's bu bhuan, 
Bho dhol fotha greine Di-Sathuirn 
Gu eirigh greine Di-luain. 



SEASONS 217 



THE POEM OF THE LORD'S DAY 

language was remarkably fluent and copious, though many of her words and 
phrases, being obsolete, were unintelligible to the stranger. I took down versions 
of the poem from several other persons, but they are all more or less corrupt and 
obscure. Poems similar to this can be traced back to the eighlh century. 

The poem of the Lord's Day, O bright God, 
Truth under the strength of Christ always. 

On the Lord's Day Mary was born. 
Mother of Christ of golden yellow hair, 
On the Lord's Day Christ was born 
As an honour to men. 

The Lord's Day, the seventh day, 

God ordained to take rest. 

To keep the life everlasting. 

Without taking use of ox or man. 

Or of creature as Mary desired. 

Without spinning thread of silk or of satin. 

Without sewing, without embroidery either. 

Without sowing, without harrowing, without reaping, 

Without rowing, without games, without fishing. 

Without going out to the hunting hill, 

Without trimming arrows on the Lord's Day, 

Without cleaning byre, without threshing corn. 

Without kiln, without mill on the Lord's Day. 

Whosoever would keep the Lord's Day, 
Even would it be to him and lasting. 
From setting of sun on Saturday 
Till rising of sun on Monday. 



218 AIMSIRE 

Gheobhadh e feich ga chionn, 
Toradh an deigh nan crann, 
lasg air abhuinn fior ghlan sala, 
Sar iasg an ionnar gach abhuinn. 

Uisg an Donihnuich blath mar nihil, 
Ge be dh' oladh e mar dhibh 
Gheobhadh e solas ga chion 
Bho gach dolas a bhiodh na char. 

Gul an Domhnuich gu ra-luath, 
Bean ga dheanadh an an-uair ; 
Guileadh i gu moch Di-luain, 
Ach na guileadh i uair 's an Domhnuch. 

Fiodh an Domhnuich gu ra-luath, 

Anns an linge mar is truagh, 

Ge d' thuiteadh a cheann na ghual, 

Bhiodh e gu Di-luain na chadal. 

Mu thrath-nona Di-luain, 

Eiridh am fiodh gu ra-luath, 

'S air an dile mhor a muigh 

Greas air sgeula mo chuimire. 

Gun chnuasachd uan, meile, meinne no minsich 

Nach buineadh dh' an Righ anns a bhlagh. 

Is ann a nist bu choir a losgadh. 

Gun eisdeachd ri gleadhraich nan gall, 

No ri dall sgeileireachd choitchinn. 

Gart a ghleidheadh air cnoc ard, 
Leigh a thoir gu galar garga. 
Bo chur gu tarbh treun na tana, 
Falbh le beothach gu cuthaidh. 



SEASONS 219 

He would obtain recompense therefrom, 
Produce after the ploughs. 
Fish on the pure salt-water stream. 
Fish excelling in every river confluence. 

The water of the Lord's Day mild as honey, 
Whoso would partake of it as drink 
Would obtain health in consequence 
From every disease afflicting him. 

The weeping of the Lord's Day is out of place, 
A woman doing it is untimely ; 
Let her weep betimes on Monday, 
But not weep once on the Lord's Day. 

The wood of the Lord's Day is too soon. 

In the pool it is pitiful, 

Though its head should fall in char, 

It would till Monday be dormant. 

About noon on the Monday, 

The wood will arise very quickly. 

And by the great flood without 

Hasten the story of my trouble. 

Without any searching for lamb, sheep, kid or goat 

That would not belong to the King in the cause. 

It is now it ought to be burnt. 

Without listening to the clamour of the stranger. 

Nor to the blind babbling of the public. 

To keep corn on a high hillock, 

To bring physician to a violent disease. 

To send a cow to the potent bull of the herd. 

To go with a beast to a cattle-fold, 



220 AIMSIRE 

Fada no fagasg anns a cheuni, 
Feumaidh gach creatair umhail. 
Eathar a leigeil fo breid-shiuil bho thir, 
Bho thir gu duthaich a h-aineoil. 

Ge be mheoraicheadh mo dhuan 
'S a ghabhadh e gach oidhche I^uan, 
Bhiodh rath Mhicheil air a cheann, 
'S a chaoidh cha bu teaiin da irionn. 

DOIGHEAN ElLE 

Abhuinn sleibh fior bhlasda, 
A sior ialadh gu lordan. 
Is ra mhath chum i a caiii, 

Di-domhnuich ge Ian a tuil. 

Cha ruith braon ge glan a h-uisge, 
An inne na Mara Ruaidh. 

Fiodh an Domhnuich nis, mo nuar ! 
An inne na Mara Ruaidh 
Ged thuiteadh an ruadh-cheann deth 
Bhiodh e gu Di-luain na chadal. 

Na fagairt mi ni air mo dheigh, 
Greis thoir air sgeula mo chumraidh. 



SEASONS 221 

Far or near be the distance, 

Every creature needs attention. 

To allow a boat under her sail from land, 

From land to the country of her unacquaintance. 

Whoso would meditate my lav. 

And say it every Monday eve. 

The luck of Michael would be on his head. 

And never would he see perdition. 

Alternative Versions — 

Hill river is very palatable. 
Ever meandering to Jordan, 
Right well it retained its tribute 

On the Lord's Day though great its flood. 

No drop, though pure be its water. 
Shall run in the channel of the lied Sea. 

The wood of the Lord's Day now, alas ! 
In the channel of the Red Sea, 
Though the red head should fall off" 
It would be till Monday asleep. 

Let me not leave aught behind. 
To talk a while of the redemption. 



222 



AIMSIRE 




DUAN AN DOMHNAICH 

^ N Donihnacli naomha do Dhe 

Tabhair do chre dli' an chinne-daon, 
Do f athair is do d' mhathair chaonih, 
Thar gach aon 's gach iii 's an t-saoghal. 

Na dean sainn air mhor no bheag, 
Na dean tair air tais no truaigh, 
Fiamli an uilc a d' choir na leig, 
Na tabhair 's na toill masladh uair. 



[80] 



Na deich fana thug Dia duit, 
Tuig gun dail iad agus dearbh, 
Creid direach an Righ nan dul, 
Cuir air chul uidli thoir a dhealbh. 

Bi dileas da d' thighearna-cinn, 

Bi dileas da d' righ 's gach eang, 

Bi dileas duit fein a ris, 

Dileas da d' Ard Righ thar gach dreang. 



Na tabhair toi'eum do neach air bith, 
An earail toi'eum a thoir ort fein, 
'S ged shiubhladh tu cuan is cith, 
Lean cas-cheum Aon-unga Dhe. 



SEASONS 223 



HYMN OF THE SUNDAY 

On the hoi}' Sunday of thy God 
Give thou thine heart to all mankind, 
To thy father and thy mother loving, 
Beyond any person or thing in the world. 

Do not covet large or small. 
Do not despise weakling or poor. 
Semblance of evil allow not near thee. 
Never give nor earn thou shame. 

The ten commands God gave thee, 
Understand them early and prove. 
Believe direct in the King of the elements, 
Put behind thee ikon-worship. 

Be faithful to thine over-lord, 

Be true to thy king in every need. 

Be true to thine own self besides. 

True to thy High-King above all obstacles. 

Do not thou malign any man. 
Lest thou thyself maligned shouldst be, 
And shouldst thou travel ocean and earth, 
P'ollow the very step of God's Anointed. 



224 



AIMSIRE 




DUAN NA DILINN 

I-LUAIN thig an doireaiin trom, 
A shileas am bith eutroni, 
Bithidh sinn umhail gach greis, 
Gach uile na dh' eisdeas. 

Di-mairt thig an t-sian eile, 
Cradh chridheach, cruaidh pheinneach, 
A shileas na gruaidheana glana, 
Frasa fala fiona. 



[81] 



Di-ciadain a sheideas gaoth, 
Sguaba lom air shrath is raon, 
Dortadh oiteag barra theann, 

Beithir bheur 's reubadh bheann. 

Di-ardaoin a shileas an cith, 
Chuireas daoine 'n an dalla ruith, 
Na 's luaithe na 'n duil air an fhiodh, 

Mar bharr mhic-Muir air bhalla-chrith. 

Di-haoine thig an coinneal dubh, 
Is eitiche thainig fo'n t-saoghal ; 
Fagar an sluagh braon am beachd, 
Fiar agus ias": fo^n aon leac. 



Di-sathuirne thig am muir mor, 
Ag iomairt air alt aibhne ; 
Bithidh gach uile mar a shnodh 

Ag altachadh gu sliabh slighinn. 



SEASONS 225 



POEM OF THE FLOOD 

On Monday will come the great storm 
Which the airy firmament will pour. 
We shall be obedient the while. 
All who will hearken. 

On Tuesday will come the other element. 
Heart paining, hard piercing. 
Wringing from pure pale cheeks 
Blood, like showers of wine. 

On Wednesday will blow the wind. 
Sweeping bare strath and plain, 
Showering gusts of galling grief. 

Thunder bursts and rending hills. 

On Thursday will pour the shower. 
Driving people into blind flight. 
Faster than the foliage on the trees, 

Like the leaves of Mary^s plant in terror tremblin" 

On Friday will come the dool cloud of darkness. 
The direst dread that ever came over the world, 
Leaving multitudes bereft of reason, 

Grass and fish beneath the same flagstone. 

On Saturday will come the great sea. 
Rushing like a mighty river ; 
All will be at their best 

Hastening to a hill of safety. 



226 AIMSIRE 



Di-domhnaich a dh' eireas mo Righ, 
Lan feirge agus iminidh, 
Ag eisdeachd ri searbh ghloir gacli fir, 
Crois dhearg air gach guala dheis. 



SEASONS 227 

On Sunday will arise my King, 
F'ull of ire and tribulation, 
Listening to the bitter talk of each man, 
A red cross on each right shoulder. 



Ill 




OIBRE 

LABOUR 




230 



OIBRE 



BEANNACHADH BEOTHACHAIDH [82] 

The kindling of the fire is a work full of interest to the housewife. When 
' lifting ' the fire in the morning the woman prays, in an undertone, that the fire 
may be blessed to her and to her household, and to the glory 



OGAIDH mi mo theine an diugh. 

An lathair ainghlean naoniha neimh, 

An lathair Airil is ailde cruth, 

An lathair Uiril nan uile sgeinih. 

Gun ghnu, gun tnu, gun fharmad. 

Gun ghiomh, gun gheimh roimli neach fo'n ghrein, 

Ach Naomh Mhac De da m' thearmad. 
Gun ghnu, gun tnu, gun fharmad. 
Gun ghiomh, gun gheimh, roimh neach fo^n 

ghrein, 
Ach Naomh Mhac De da in' thearmad. 




Dhe fadaidh fein na m' chridhe steach, 
Aingheal ghraidh do ni' choimhearsnach, 
Do m' namh, do m' dhamh, do m' chairde, 
Do 'n t-saoidh, do 'n daoidh, do 'n traille. 
A Mhic na Moire min-ghile, 
Bho 'n ni is isde crannchaire, 
Gu ruig an t-Ainm is airde. 

A Mhic na Moire min-ghile, 
Bho 'n ni is isde crannchaire, 
Gu ruig an t-Ainm is airde. 



LABOUR 231 



BLESSING OF THE KINDLING 

of God who gave it. The people look upon fire as a miracle of Divine power 
provided for their good — to warm their bodies when they are cold, to cook their 
food when they are hungry, and to remind them that they too, like the fire, 
need constant renewal mentally and physically. 

I WILL kindle my fire this morning 

In presence of the holy angels of heaven, 

In presence of Ariel of the loveliest form, 

In presence of Uriel of the myriad charms, 

Without malice, without jealousy, without envy. 

Without fear, witliout terror of any one under the sun. 

But the Holy Son of God to .shield me. 

Without malice, without jealousy, without envy. 
Without feai-, without terror of any one under the 

sun. 
But the Holy Son of God to shield me. 

God, kindle Thou in my heart within 

A flame of love to my neighbour, 

To my foe, to my friend, to my kindred all. 

To the brave, to the knave, to the thrall, 

O Son of the loveliest Mary, 

From the lowliest thing that liveth. 

To the Name that is highest of all. 

O Son of the loveliest Mary, 

From the lowliest thing that liveth. 

To the Name that is highest of all. 



232 



OIBRE 



TOGAIL AN TEINE 



[83] 




OGAIDH mis an tula 
Mar a thogadh Muirc. 
Caim Bhride 's Mhuire 
Air an tula 's air an lar, 
'S air an fhardaich uile. 

Co iad ri luim an lair? 
Eoin, Peadail agus Pail. 
Co iad ri bruaich mo leap ? 
Bride bhuidlieach 's a Dalt. 
Co iad ri fatli mo shuain ? 
Muire ghraidh-gheal 's a h-Uan. 
Co siud a tha "'n am theann ? 
Righ na grein e fein a th' ann, 
Co siud ri cul mo chinn ? 
Mac nan dul gun tus, gun linn. 



LABOUR 233 



KINDLING THE FIRE 

I WILL raise the hearth-fire 

As Mary would. 

The encirclement of Bride and of Mary 

On the fire, and on the floor, 

And on the household all. 

Who are they on the bare floor .'' 

John and Peter and I'aul. 

Who are they by my bed ? 

The lovely Bride and her Fosterling. 

Who are those watching over my sleep ? 

The fair loving Mary and her Lamb. 

Who is that anear me ? 

The King of the sun, He himself it is. 

Who is that at the back of my head .'' 

The Son of Life without beginning, without time. 



234 



OIBRE 



SMALADH AN TEINE 



[84] 



Peat is the fuel of the Highlands and Islands. Where wood is not obtainable the 
fire is kept in during the night. The process by whicli tliis is accomplished is 
called in Gaelic sraaladh ; in Scottish, smooring ; and in EngHsh, smothering, or 
more correctly, subduing. The ceremony of smooring the fire is artistic and 
symbohc, and is performed with loving care. The embers are evenly spread on 
the hearth — which is generally in the middle of the floor—and formed into a circle. 
This circle is then divided into three equal sections, a small boss being left in the 
middle. A peat is laid between each section, each peat touching the boss, 
which forms a common centre. The first peat is laid down in name of the God 
of Life, the second in name of the God of Peace, the third 
in name of the God of Grace. The circle is then covered 
over with ashes sufficient to subdue but not to extinguish 

N Tri nunih 
A chumhnadh, 
A clioinhnadh, 
A choniraig 
An tula. 
An taighe, 
An teaghlaich, 
An oidhche, 
An nochd, 
O ! an oidhche, 
An nochd, 
Agus gach oidhche, 
Gach aon oidhche. 
Amen. 




LABOUR 235 



SMOORING THE FIRE 

the file, in name of the Three of Light. The heap shghtJy raised in the centre 
is called 'Tula nan Tri,' the Hearth of the Three. When the smooring 
operation is complete the woman closes her eyes, stretches her hand, and softly 
intones one of the many formula? current for these occasions. 

Another way of keeping embers for morning use is to place them in a pit at 
night. The pit consists of a hole in the clay floor, generally under the dresser. 
The pit may be from half a foot to a foot in depth and diameter, with a flag fixed 
in the floor over the top. In the centre of this flag there is a hole by which the 
embers are put in and taken out. Another flag covers the hole to extinguish 
the fire at night, and to guard against accidents during the day. This extinguish- 
ing fire-pit is called ' slochd guail,' coke or coal-pit. This coke or charcoal is 
serviceable in kindling the fire. 

The sacred Three 
To save, 
To shield, 
To surround 
The he.irth. 
The house, 
The household, 
This eve. 
This night, 
Oh ! this eve, 
This night. 
And every night, 
Each single night. 

Amen. 



236 



OIBRE 




SMALADH AN TEINE 

^,^ AIRIDH mi an tula. 
Mar a chaireadh Muire, 
Cairn Bhride 's Mhuire, 
Car an tula 's car an lair, 
'S car an ardraich uile. 

Co iad air lian a niuigh ? 
Micheal grian-gheal mo luin. 
Co iad air meadhon lair ? 
Eoin, Pcadail, agus Pail. 
Co iad ri bial mo stoc ? 
Moire ffhrian-ffheal 's a Mac. 



[85] 



Bial Dia dh' orduich, 
Aingheal Dia bhoinich, 
Aingheal geal an car an tealla, 
Gon tig la geal gu beola. 
Aingheal geal an car an tealla, 
Gon tig la geal gu beola. 



LABOUR 237 



SMOORING THE FIRE 

I WILL build the hearth, 

As Mary would build it. 

The encompassment of Bride and of Mary, 

Guarding the hearth, guarding tlie floor. 

Guarding the household all. 

Who are they on the lawn without .'' 
Michael the sun-radiant of my trust. 
Who are they on the middle of the floor ? 
John and Peter and Paul. 
Who are they by the front of my bed .'' 
Sun-bright Mary and her Son. 

The mouth of God ordained, 

The angel of God proclaimed. 

An angel white in charge of the hearth 

Till white day shall come to the embers. 

An angel white in charge of the hearth 

Till white day shall come to the embers. 



238 



OIBRE 




BEANNACHD SMALAIDH 

HA mi smaladh an teine, 
Mar a smaladh Mac Moire ; 
Gu mu slan dh' an taigh "s dh' an teine, 
Gu mu slan dh' an chuideachd uile. 

Co siud shios air an lar ? 

Eoin agus Peadail agus Pal. 

Co air am bheil an fhaire nochd ? 

Air Moire mhin-gheal 's air a Mac. 



Beul De a thubhradh, 
Aingheal De a labhradh, 
Aingheal an dorus an taighe, 
D''ar comhnadh 's d ar gleidheadh 
Gu 'n tig la fjeal am maireach. 



O ! ainghlean Aon Naomha Dhe 
Da mo chaimhleachadh fein a nochd, 
O ! ainghlean Aon Unga Dhe, 
Da mo chaim bho bheud 's bho lochd. 
Da mo chaim bho bheud a nochd. 



LABOUR 239 



BLESSING OF THE SMOORING 

I AM sniooriiig the fire 
As the Son of Mary would snioor ; 
Blest be the house, blest be the fire, 
Blest be the people all. 

Who are those down on the Hoor ? 

John and Peter and Paul. 

On whom is the vigil to-night? 

On the fixir gentle Mary and on her Son. 

The mouth of God said, 

The angel of God spake. 

An angel in the door of the house, 

To guard and to keep us all 

Till conies daylight to-morrow. 

Oh ! may the angels of the Holy One of God 
Environ me all this night. 

Oh ! may the angels of the Anointed One of God 
Encompass me from harm and from evil. 

Oh ! encompass me from harm this night. 



240 



OIBRE 




BEANNACHADH SMALAIDH [87] 

MALAIDH mis an tula 
Mar a smaladh Muire ; 
Comraig Bhride ^s Mhuire, 
Air an tula 's air an lar, 
'S air an fhardaich uile. 

Co siud air liana mach ? 
Muire ghrian-gheal "s a Mac, 
Bial Dia dh' iarradh, aingheal Dia labhradh ; 
AinghJe geallaidh faire an teallaidh, 
Gu'n tig latha geal gu beallaidh. 



LABOUR 241 



SMOORING BLESSING 

I WILL smoor the hearth 
As Mary would smoor ; 
The encompassnient of Bride and of Mary, 
On the fire and on the floor. 
And on the household all. 

Who is on the lawn without ? 
Fairest Mary and her Son, 

The mouth of God ordained, the angel of God spoke ; 
Angels of promise watching the hearth. 
Till white day comes to the fire. 



242 



OIBRE 



AN COISRIGEADH SIOIL 



The preparation of the seed-corn is of great importance to the people, who 
bestow much care on this work. Many ceremonies and proverbs are applied 
to seedtime and harvest. 

The corn is prepared at certain seasons of the year, which are seldom deviated 

from. The rye is threshed to allow ' gaoth bhog nan Duldachd,' the soft wind of 

November and December, to winnow the seed ; the oats to allow ' gaoth fhuar 

nam Faoilleach,' the cold winds of January and 

February, to winnow the seed ; and the bere to 

allow ' gaoth gheur nam Mart,' the sharp winds 

HEID mi mach a chur an t-sioil, 
An ainm an Ti a thug da fas, 
Cuirini m'' aghaidli anns a ghaoitli. 
Is tilgini baslach caon an aird. 
Ma thuiteas silc air lie luini, 
Cha bhi fuinn aige gu fas ; 
Mheud 's a thuiteas anns an uir, 
Bheir an druehd dha a bhi Ian. 




Di-aoine la nam buadh, 
Thig dealt a nuas a chur failt 
Air gach por a bha ''n an suain, 
Bho na thainig fuachd gun bhaigh ; 
Friamhaichidh ga'.'h por 's an uir, 
Mar a mhiannaich Righ nan dul, 
Thig an fochann leis an druehd, 
Gheobh e beatha bho 'n shaoith chiuin. 



Thig mi niu ''n cuairt le m' cheum, 
Theid mi deiseil leis a ghrein, 
An ainm Airil 's nan aingeal naodh. 
An ainm Ghabril 's nan ostal caomh. 



LABOUR 243 



THE CONSECRATION OF THE SEED 

of March and April, to winnow the seed. All these preparations are made to 
assist Nature in the coming Spring. Three days before being sown the seed is 
sprinkled with clear cold water, in the name of Father, and of Son, and of Spirit, 
the person sprinkling the seed walking sunwise the while. 

The ritual is picturesque, and is performed with great care and solemnity and, 
like many of these ceremonies, is a combination of Paganism and Christianity. 

The moistening of the seed has the effect of hastening its growth when 
committed to the ground, which is generally begun on a Friday, that day being 
auspicious for all operations not necessititing the use of iron. 

I WILL go out to sow the seed. 
In name of Him who gave it growth ; 
I will place my front in the wind, 
And throw a gracious handful on high. 
Should a grain fall on a bare rock. 
It shall have no soil in which to grow ; 
As much as falls into the earth, 
The dew will make it to be full. 

Friday, day auspicious. 

The dew will come down to welcome 

Every seed that lay in sleep 

Since the coming of cold without mercy ; 

Every seed will take root in the earth. 

As the King of the elements desired. 

The braird will come forth with the dew, 

It will inhale life from the soft wind. 

I will come round with my step, 

I will go rightways with the sun. 

In name of Ariel and the angels nine, 

In name of Gabriel and the Apostles kind. 



244 OIRRE 



Athair is Mac is Spiorad Naomh, 
Bhi toir fas is toradh maoth 
Do gach call a ta 'n am raon, 
Gon tar an latha caoii. 

La Fheill Micheil, la nam buadh, 
Cuiridli mi mo cliorran cuart 
Bun an arbhair mar bu dual, 
Togam an ceud bheum gu luath ; 
Cuirim e tri char mu 'n cuart 
Mo cheann, 's mo rann ga luadh, 
Mo chulaibh ris an airde tuath ; 
"S mo ghnuis ri grein ghil nam buadh. 

Tilgim am beum fada bhuam, 

Duinim mo dha shuil da uair. 

Ma thuiteas e na aon dual 

Bithidh mo chruachan biochar buan ; 

Cha tig Cailleach ri an-uair 

Dh' iarraidh bonnach boise bhuainn, 

Duair thig gaillionn garbh na gruaim 

Cha bhi gainne oirnn no cruas. 



LABOUR 245 

Father, Son, and Spirit Holy, 
Be giving growth and kindly substance 
To every thing that is in my ground. 
Till the day of gladness shall come. 

The Feast day of Michael, day beneficent, 

I will put my sickle round about 

The root of my corn as was wont ; 

I will lift the first cut quickly ; 

I will put it three turns round 

My head, saying my rune the while, 

My back to the airt of the north ; 

My face to the fair sun of power. 

I shall throw the handful far from me, 

I shall close my two eyes twice. 

Should it fall in one bunch 

My stacks will be productive and lasting; 

No Carlin will come with bad times 

To ask a palm bannock from us. 

What time rough storms come with frowns 

Nor stint nor hardship shall be on us. 



Q2 



246 



OIBRE 



BEANNACHADH BUANA [89] 

The day the people began to reap the corn was a day of commotion and cere- 
monial in the townland. The whole family repaired to the field dressed in their 
best attire to hail the God of the harvest. 

Laying his bonnet on the ground, the father of the family took up his sickle, 

and facing the sun, he cut a handful of corn. Putting the handful of corn 

three times sunwise round his head, the man raised the ' lolach Buana," 

reaping salutation. The whole family took up the strain 

;^^^_^ and praised the God of the harvest, who gave them 



HE beannaich fein mo bhuain, 
, Gach imir, cluan, agus raon, 
Gach corran cama, cuimir, cruaidli, 
Gach dias is dual a theid \s an raoid, 

Gach dias is dual a theid 's an raoid. 



Beannaich gach murn agus mac, 
Gach mnaoi agus miuchainn maoth, 
Tiuir iad fo sgiath do neairt, 
Is tearmaid ann an teach nan naomh, 
Tearmaid ann an teach nan naomh. 

Cuimrieh gach mins, ciob, is uan, 
Gach iii, agus mearc, is maon, 
Cuartaich fein an treuid 's am buar, 
Is cuallaich a chon buailidh chaon, 
Cuallaich a chon buailidh chaon. 




Air sgath Mhicheil mhil nam feachd, 
Mhoire chneas-ghil leac nam buadh, 
Bhride mhin-ghil ciabh nan cleachd, 
Chaluim-chille nam feart "s nan tuam, 

Chaluim-chille nam feart 's nan tuam. 



LABOUR 247 



KEAFING BLESSING 

corn and bread, food and flocks, wool and clothin<;, health and strength, and 
peace and plenty. 

When the reaping was finished the people had a trial called ' cur nan corran," 
casting the sickles, and ' deuchain chorran,' trial of hooks. This consisted, 
among other things, of throwing the sickles high up in the air, and observing 
how they came down, how each struck the earth, and how it lay on the ground. 
From these observations the people augured who was to remain single and who 
was to be married, who was to be sick and who was to die, before the next 
reaping came round. 

Gou, bless Thou Thyself my reaping, 
Each ridge, and plain, and field. 
Each sickle curved, shapely, hard. 
Each ear and handful in the sheaf. 

Each ear and handful in the sheaf. 

Bless each maiden and youth. 
Each woman and tender you'igli'igj 
Safeguard them beneath Thy shield of strength, 
And guard them in the house of the saints. 
Guard them in the house of the saints. 

Encompass each goat, sheep and lamb, 
Each cow and horse, and store. 
Surround Thou the flocks and herds, 
And tend them to a kindly fold. 
Tend them to a kindly fold. 

For the sake of Michael head of hosts, 
Of Mary fair-skinned branch of grace. 
Of Bride smooth-white of ringleted locks, 
Of Columba of the graves and tombs, 
Columba of the graves and tombs. 



248 



OIBRE 




BEANNACHADH BUANA [9o] 



I-MAIRT feille ri eirigh greine, 
Is cul na deise 's an aird an ear, 
Theid mi mach le m' chorran fo m' sgeith, 
Is buainidh mi am beum an ceud char. 

Leigidh mi mo chorran sios 
'S an dias biadhchar fo mo ghlac, 
Togam suas mo shuil an aird, 
Tionndam air mo sliail gu grad, 



Deiseil mar thriallas a ghrian 
Bho 'n airde 'n ear gu ruig an iar, 
Bho 'n airde tuath le gluasadh reidh, 
Gu fior chre na h-airde deas. 

Bheir mi cliu do Righ nan gras 
Airson cinneas barr na h-uir, 
Bheir e Ion dhuinn fein 's dh' an al 
Mar a bhairigeas e dhuinn. 

Seumas is Eoin, Peadail is Pal, 
Moire ghraidh-gheal Ian soluis, 



Oidhch Fheill-Micheil agus Nollaig, 
Blasaidh sinn uile dhe 'n bhonnach. 



LABOUR 249 



REAPING BLESSING 

On Tuesday of the feast at the rise of the sun, 
And the back of the ear of corn to the east, 
I will go forth with my sickle under my arm, 
And I will reap the cut the first act. 

I will let my sickle down 

While the fruitful ear is in my grasp, 

I will raise mine eye upwards, 

I will turn me on my heel quickly, 

Rightway as travels the sun 

From the airt of the east to the west. 

From the airt of the north with motion calm 

To the very core of the airt of the south. 

I will give thanks to the King of grace 

For the growing crops of the ground. 

He will give food to ourselves and to the flocks 

According as He disposeth to us. 

James and John, Peter and Paul, 
Mary beloved, the fullness of light, 



On Michaelmas Eve and Christmas, 
We will all taste of the bannock. 



250 



OIBRE 



BEANNACHADH FUIRIRIDH 



[91] 



When it is necessary to provide a small quantity of raeal hastily, ears of corn are 

plucked and placed in a net made of the tough roots of the yellow bedstraw, 

bent, or quicken grass, and hung above a slow smokeless fire. The bag is taken 

down now and again to turn the ears of corn. This net, 

however, can only be used for bere or barley ; rye and oats. 



LASAIR leith, chaol, chrom, 
Tighinn a toll mhullach nam fod, 
A lasair leumrach, leathann, theith, 
Na teid Ic do chleid da m' choir. 



Gabhail reidh, sheimh, shuairce, 
Tighinu mu 'n cuart mo thetheann, 
Teine cubhr, caon, cuana, 
Nach dean smur, no smuar, no reubann. 

Teasaich, cruadhaich nio shiol mianih, 

Chon biadh dha mo leanu-beag, 

An ainm Chriosda, Righ nan sian, 

Thug duinn iodh, is iadh, is beannachd leis, 
An ainm Chriosda, Righ nan sian, 
Thug duinn iodh, is iadh, is beannachd leis. 




LABOUR 251 



THE BLESSING OF THE PARCHING 

being more detachable, require the use of a pot or ' tarran ' to dry them. This 
mode of drying corn is called ' fuirireadh,' parching, and the corn ' fuirireach,' 
parched. The meal ground from the grain is called ' rain f huiriridh,' parched 
meal. Bread made of meal thus prepared has a strong peaty flavour much 
relished by the people. 

Thou flame grev, slender, curved, 
Coming from the top pore of the pe.at. 
Thou flame of leaps, breadth, heat. 
Come not nigh me with thy cjuips. 

A burning steady, gentle, generous. 
Coming round about my quicken roots, 
A fire fragrant, fair, and peaceful. 
Nor causes dust, nor grief, nor havoc. 

Heat, parch my fat seed, 
For food for my little child. 
In name of Christ, King of the elements. 
Who gave us corn and bread and blessing withal. 
In name of Christ, King of the elements, 
Who gave us corn and bread and blessing withal. 



252 OIBRE 



BEANNACHADH BRATHAIN [92] 

The quern songs, like all the labour songs of the people, were composed in a 
measure suited to the special labour involved. The measure changed to suit the 
rhythmic motion of the body at work, at times slow, at times fast, as occasion 
required. I first saw the quern at work in October 1860 in the house of a cottar 
at Fearann-an-leatha, Skye. The cottar-woman procured some oats in the sheaf. 
Roughly evening the heads, and holding the corn in one hand and a rod in the 
other, she set fire to the ears. Then, holding the corn over an old partially- 
dressed sheep-skin, she switched off the grain. This is called 'gradanadh,' 
quickness, from the expert handling required in the operation. The whole straw 
of the sheaf was not burnt, only that part of the straw to which the grain was 
attached, the flame being kept from proceeding further. The straw was tied up 
and used for other purposes. 

Having fanned the grain and swept the floor, the woman spread out the 
sheep-skin again and placed the quern thereon. She then sat down to grind, 
filling and reUeving the quern with one hand and turning it with the other, 
singing the while to the accompaniment of the whirr ! whirr ! whirr ! birr ! birr ! 
birr ! of the revolving stone. Several strong sturdy boys in scant kilts, and 
sweet comely girls in nondescript frocks, sat round the peat fire enjoying it fully, 
and watching the work and listening to the song of their radiant mother. 

In a remarkably short space of time the grain from the field was converted 
into meal, and the meal into bannocks, which the unknown stranger was pressed 
to share. The bread was good and palatable, though with a slight taste of peat, 
which would probably become pleasant in time. 

The second time I saw the quern at work was in January 1S65, in the house of 
a crofter at Breubhaig, Barra, and it reminded me of Mungo Park's description 
of a similar scene in Africa. The quern was on the floor, with a well-worn cow- 
hide under it. Two women sat opposite one another on the floor with the quern 
between them. The right leg of each was stretched out, while the knee of 
the other leg formed a sharp angle, with the foot resting against the knee-joint 
of the straight leg. A fan containing here lay beside the women, and from 
this one of them fed the quern, while the other relieved it of the constantly 
accumulating meal. Each woman held the ' sgonnan,' handle, with which they 
turned the quern, and as they turned they sang the Quern Blessing here 
given, to a very pretty air. Then they sang an impromptu song on the 



LABOUR 253 

stranger, who was hungry and cnld, and who was far from home and from the 
mother wlio loved him. 

When mills were erected, the authorities destroyed the querns in order to 
compel the people to go to the mills and pay multure, mill dues. This wholesale 
and inconsiderate destruction of querns everywhere enbiiled untold hardships on 
thousands of people living in roadless districts and in distant isles without mills, 
especially during storms. Among other expedients to which the more remote 
people resorted was the searching of ancient ruins for the ' poUagan,' mortar 
mills, of former generations. The mortar is a still more primitive instrument 
for preparing corn than the quern. It is a block of stone about twenty-four 
inches by eighteen by eight. The centre and one end of this block are hollowed 
out to a breadth of about six or eight inches, and a depth of four or five, leaving 
three gradually sloping sides. The grain is placed in this scoop-like hoUow and 
crushed with a stone. When sufficiently crushed, the meal is thrown out at the 
open end of the scoop, and fresh grain is put in to follow a similar process. 
When using the mortar, the woman is on her knees, unless the mortar is on 
a table. 

The meal obtained by this process is called 'pronn, pronnt, pronntach, min 
phronntaidh,' bruised meal, to distinguish it from 'gradan, gradanach, min 
ghradain," quick meal, ' min bhrath, min bhrathain,' quern meal, and ' min 
mhuillc,' mill meal. The crushed meal of the primitive mortar is similar in 
character to the crushed meal of modern commerce. 

The quern and mortar are still used in outlying districts of Scotland and 
Ireland, though isolatedly and sparingly. 



[pp. 254-5 



254 OIBRE 



BEANNACHADH BRATHAIN 

^^^^ IDHCH Inid 

yi^^w)- P\\V -^' f'-'*^^' againn, 
^^^^7v-v.lll 'S bu choir 'uinn sin 
^^^i^^^aTg) Bu choir 'uinn sin. 

y^^Mi./l///J Leth-cheann circe, 
|>rr2v5i^^^ 'S da ghreim eorna, 

'S bu leoir 'uinn sin 

Bu leoir 'uinn sin. 

Bi bin againn, 
Bi beoir againn, 
Bi fion againn, 
Bi roic againn. 
Meilc is maiTum, 
Mil is bainne, 
Sile fallain, 
Meall dheth sin, 
Meall dheth sin. 

Bi cruit againn, 
Bi clar againn, 
Bi dus againn, 
Bi das againn ; 
Bi saltair ghrinn, 
Nan teuda binn, 
'S bi fairchil, righ'nn 
Nan dan againn. 
Nan dan aeainn. 



LABOUR 255 



THE QUERN BLESSING 

On Ash Eve 
We shall have flesh, 
We should have that 
We should have that. 

The cheek of hen. 
Two bits of barley. 
That were enoufrh 
That were enough. 

We shall have mead, 

We shall have spruce, 

We shall have wine, 

We shall have feast. 

We shall have sweetness and milk produce, 

Honey and milk. 

Wholesome ambrosia. 

Abundance of that. 

Abundance of that. 

We shall have harp, (small ?) 

We shall have harp, (pedal .'') 

We shall have lute. 

We shall have horn. 

We shall have sweet psaltery 

Of the melodious strings 

And the regal lyre, 

Of the songs we shall have. 

Of the songs we shall have. 



256 OIBRE 



Bi Bride bhithe, bhana, leiim, 

Bi Moire nihine mhathar, leiiin. 

Bi Micheal mil 

Nan lanna liobh, 

'S bi Righ nan righ, 

'S bi losa Criosd 

'S bith Spiorad sith 

Nan grasa leinn, 

Nan grasa leinn. 



LABOUR 257 

The calm fair Bride will be with us, 

The gentle Mary mother will be with us. 

Michael the cliief 

Of glancing glaves, 

And the King of kings 

And Jesus Christ, 

And the Spirit of peace 

And of grace will be with us, 

Of grace will be with us. 



258 



OIBRE 



CRONAN BLEOGHAIN 



[93] 



The milking songs of the people are numerous and varied. They are sung to 
pretty airs, to please the cows and to induce them to give their milk. The cows 
become accustomed to these lilts and will not give their milk without them, nor, 
occasionally, without their favourite airs being sung to them. This fondness of 
Highland cows for music induces owners of large herds to secure milkmaids 
possessed of good voices and some 'go.' It is interesting and animating to see 
three or four comely girls among a fold of sixty, eighty, or a hundred picturesque 
Highland cows on meadow or mountain slope. The moaning and heaving of the 

Tr- HIG, a Blueannain, o'n a chuan, 

Thig, a Thorrainn, buadh nam fear, 
Thig, a Mhicheil, nihil a nuas 
'S dilinn domh-sa bua mo ghean. 
Ho m'' aghan, ho m' agh gaoil, 
Ho m'' aghan, ho ni' agh gaoil, 
M' aghan gradhach, bo gach airidh, 
Sgath an Ard Rio-h trabh ri d'' laogli. 




Thig, a Chaluim chaoimh, o'n chro, 
Thig, a Bhride mhor nam buar, 
Thig, a Mhoire mhin, o'n neol, 
'S dilinn domh-sa bo mo luaidh. 
Ho m' aghan, ho m' agh gaoil. 



Thig am fearan o'n a choill, 
Thig an traill a druim nan stuagh, 
Thig an sionn cha 'n ann am foill, 
A chur aoibh air bo nam buadh. 
Ho m' aghan, ho m' agh gaoil. 



LABOUR 259 



MILKING CROON 

sea afar, the swish of the wave on the shore, the carolling of the lark in the sky, 
the unbroken song of the mavis on the rock, the broken melody of tlie merle 
in the brake, the lowing of the kine without, the response of the calves within 
the fold, the singing of the milkmaids in miison with the movement of their 
hands, and of the soft sound of the snowy milk falling into the pail, the gilding 
of hill and dale, the glowing of the distant ocean beyond, as the sun sinks into 
the sea of golden glory, constitute a scene which the observer would not, if he 
could, forget. 

Come, Brendan, from the ocean, 

Come, Ternan, most potent of men, 

Come, ^Michael valiant, down 

And propitiate to me the cow of my joy. 
Ho my heifer, ho heifer of my love, 
Ho my heifer, ho heifer of my love. 
My beloved heifer, choice cow of every shieling. 
For the sake of the High King take to thy calf. 

Come, beloved Colum of the fold. 
Come, great Bride of the flocks, 
Come, fair Mary from the cloud. 
And propitiate to me the cow of my love. 
Ho my heifer, ho heifer of my love. 

The stock-dove will come from the wood. 
The tusk will come from the wave, 
The fox will come but not with wiles. 
To hail my cow of virtues. 

Ho my heifer, ho heifer of my love. 



260 



OIBRE 




CRONAN BLEOGHAIN 



[94] 



IAN a cliuir Moire nam buadh, 

Moch is anamoch dol dachaidh is uath, 

Buachaille Padruig, is banachaig Bride, 

D' ur sion, d' ur dion, 's d' ur comhnadh. 

Ho hi lioligan, ho m' aighean, 

Ho hi hohgan, ho m' aighean, 

Ho hi hoHgan, ho m' aighean, 

Mo chrodh-laoigh air gach taobh an abhuinn. 

Bith buarach chioba air m'' aighean siocha, 
Bith buarach shioda air m' aighean laoigh, 
Bith buarach shugain air crodh na duthcha, 
Ach buarach ur air m' aighean gaoil. 
Ho hi holigan, ho m' aighean. 



Fhaic thu bho ud air an hanu, 
'S a laogh mear aic air a bialu, 
Dean, a chaomhag, mar a rinn i chianu, 
Thoir am bainne, a laoigh na Fiannaich. 
Ho hi holigan, ho m' aighean. 



LABOUR 261 



MILKING CROON 

The charm placed of Mary of light, 

Early and late going to and from home, 

The herdsman Patrick and the milkmaid Bride, 

Be saining you and saving you and shielding you. 

Ho hi holigan, ho my heifer, 

Ho hi holigan, ho my heifer, 

Ho hi holigan, ho my heifer. 

My calving kine on each side of the river. 

A shackle of lint on my elfish heifer, 
A shackle of silk on my heifer of calves, 
A shackle of straw on the cows of the townland, 
But a brand new shackle on my heifer beloved. 
Ho hi holigan, ho my heifer. 

Seest thou that cow on the plain. 
With her frisky calf before her. 
Do, thou lovable one, as she did erstwhile, 
Give thou thy milk, O calf of ' Fiannach.' 
Ho hi holigan, ho my heifer. 



R 2 



262 OIBRE 




BEANNACHADH BLEOGHAIN [95] 

HEIR Calum-cille dhi-se piseach, 
Bheir Coibhi cinneil dhi-se fiar, 
Bheir m' aghan ballaidh dhomh-s' am bainne 
'S a laogh bainionn air a bial. 

Ho ! m'' aghan, in' aghan, m' aghan, 
Ho ! m' aghan, caon, ciuin, 
M' aghan caomh, caomh, gradhaidh, 
Gur e gaol do nihathar thu. 

Seall thu 'n druis ud thall a froineadh, 
'S an druis eil air loin nan smiar, 
Is ionann sin is m' aghan goirridh, 
'S a laogh boirionn air a bial. 
Ho ! m aghan, — 

Bheir Bride bhith nan cire geala, 
Li na h-eal am aghan gaoil, 
'S bheir Muire mhin nam mire meala, 
Dhi-se ceal nan cearca-fraoich. 
Ho ! m' aghan, — 



LABOUR 263 



MILKING BLESSING 

CoLUMBA will give to her progeny, 
Coivi the propitious, will give to her grass, 
My speckled heifer will give me her milk. 
And her female calf before her. 

Ho my heifer ! heifer ! heifer ! 

Ho my heifer ! kindly, calm, 

My heifer gentle, gentle, beloved. 

Thou art the love of thy mother. 

Seest yonder thriving bramble bush 
And the other bush glossy with brambles. 
Such like is my fox-coloured heifer. 
And her female calf before her. 
Ho my heifer ! — 

The calm Bride of the white combs 
Will give to my loved heifer the lustre of the swan. 
While the loving Mary, of the combs of honey. 
Will give to her the mottle of the heather hen. 
Ho my heifer ! — 



264 



OIBRE 



HO HOILIGEAN, HO M' AIGHEAN [96] 

UDAIL thu 's thu dh'an chrodh mliara, 

Chra chluasach, bheum chluasach, bheannach ; 
Chralhadh fual air cruach do sheanar, 
'S cha tar thu uam-s' a Luan no Sha''urn. 

Ho hoiligean, ho m' aigheaii ! 

Ho hoiligean, ho m' aighean ! 

Ho hoiligean, ho m'' aighean ! 

Mo lochruidh chaomh gach taobh an abhuinn. 




Eudail thu "s thu chrodh na tire, 
Bheir thu marrum, bheir thu mis dhomh ; 
Bheir thu bainne barr na ciob dhomh, 
'S cha b' e glaisle ghlas an t-siobain. 
Ho hoiligean, ho m' aighean ! 

Eudail thu 's thu chrodh an t-saoghail, 
Bheir thu bainne barr an f hraoich dhomh ; 
Cha bhainne glas air bhlas a chaorain, 
Ach bainne meal 's e air gheal na faoileig. 
Ho hoiligean, ho m' aighean ! 



Bheir Bride bhinn dhut linn is ograidh, 
Bheir Moire mhin dhut li dha d' chomhdach, 
Bheir Michael liobha dhut ri dha d' sheoladh, 
'S bheir losda Criosda dhut sith is solas. 
Ho hoiligean, ho m' aighean ! 



LABOUR 265 



HO HOILIGEAN, HO MY HEIFERS 

My treasure thou, and thou art of the sea kine. 

Red eared, notch eared, high horned ; 

Urine was sprinkled on the rump of thy grandsire. 

And thou shalt not win from me on Monday nor Saturday. 

Ho hoiligean, ho my heifers ! 

Ho hoihgean, ho my heifers ! 

Ho hoiligean, ho my heifers ! 

My kindly kine on each side of the stream. 

My treasure thou, and thou art of the land kine, 
Thou wilt give me milk produce, thou wilt give me dainty ; 
Thou wilt give me milk from the top of the club-moss, 
And not the grey water of the sand-drift. 
Ho hoiligean, ho my heifers ! 

My treasure thou, and thou art of the workUs kine, 
Thou wilt give me milk from the heather tops; 
Not grey milk of the taste of the rowan berries, 
But honey milk and white as the sea-gull. 
Ho hoiligean, ho my heifers ! 

The melodious Bride will give thee offspring and young. 
The lovely Mary will give thee colour to cover thee. 
The lustrous Michael will give thee a star to guide thee. 
And Christ Jesu will give thee peace and joy. 
Ho hoiligean. ho my heifers ! 



266 OIBRE 




HO M' AGHAN! [9?] 

IDHCHE sin bha ''in Buachaill a niuigh 
Cha deaclia buarach air boin, 
Cha deacha geum a beul laoigh, 
Caoineadh Buachaill a chruidh, 

Caoineadh Buachaill a chruidh. 

Ho m' aghan ! ho m' aghan ! 
Ho m"' aghan ! m' aghan gaoil ! 
Chridheag cliridh, choir, ghradhaich, 
Air sgath an Ard Righ gabh ri d' laogh. 



Oidhche sin bha "m Buachaill air chall, 
Fhuaradh anns an Teampull e. 
Righ na gile thighinn a nail ! 
Righ na greine nuas a neamh ! 

Righ na greine nuas a neamh ! 



LABOUR 267 



HO, MY HEIFER! 

The night the Herdsman was out 

No shackle went on a cow, 

Lowing ceased not from the mouth of calf 

Wailing the Herdsman of the flock, 

Wailing the Herdsman of the flock. 

Ho my heifer ! ho my heifer ! 

Ho my heifer ! my heifer beloved ! 

My heartling heart, kind, fond, 

For the sake of the High King take to thy calf. 

The night the Herdsman was missing, 
In the Temple He was found. 
The King of the moon to come hither ! 
The King of the sun down from heaven ! 
King of the sun down from heaven ! 



268 



OIBRE 



THOIR AM BAINNE 



[98] 




HOIR am bainne, bho dhonn, 
Ce 'n conn ma 'n ceillinn ? 
Laogh na ba ud braigh na beinge, 
'S laogh mo ghraidh-sa air graisich eile. 
O ! ho ! graisich eile. 

Thoir am bainne, bho dhonn, 
Thoir am bainne, bho dhonn, 
Thoir am bainne, bho dhonn, 
Trom sleilleach. 



Ach gheobh mo ghaol-sa laoighean cais-fhionn. 
Is buarach caon a theid caomh ma casan ; 
Cha bhuarach gaoisid, fraoich, no asgairt, 
Ach buarach dhaor a bheir daoin a Sasgunn. 
O ! ho ! a Sasgunn. 

'S gheobh mo righinn-sa finn na maise 
Buarach min a theid sliom ma casan ; 
Cha bhuarach cioba, lioin, no asgairt, 
Ach buarach shiod thig a nios a Sasgunn. 
O ! ho ! a Sasgunn. 



'S gheobh mo chiall-sa fiar is fasga, 
'S gheobh i aonach, fraoch, is machair, 
'S gheobh i mislean, ciob, is fasbhuain, 
'S gheobh i am fion thig 'o shian nan cas-bheann. 
O ! ho ! nan cas-bheann. 



LABOUR 269 



GIVE THY MILK 

Give thy milk, brown cow, 
For what reason should I conceal ? 
The [skin of the] calf of yonder cow on the partition, 
While the calf of my love is on another grange. 
Oh ! ho ! another grange. 

Give thy milk, brown cow, 

Give thy milk, brown cow. 

Give thy milk, brown cow. 

Heavily flowing. 

My beloved shall get white-bellied calves, 
And a fetter fine that shall go kindly round hur legs ; 
No fetter of hair, nor of heather, nor of lint refuse, 
But a dear fetter that men bring from Saxon land. 
Oh ! ho ! from Saxon land. 

And my queen maiden of beauty shall get 
A fetter smooth to go softly round her legs ; 
No fetter of cord, nor of lint, nor lint refuse. 
But a fetter of silk up from Saxon land. 
Oh ! ho ! from Saxon land. 

My beloved shall get grass and shelter. 
She shall get hill, heath, and plain, 
She shall get meadow-grass, club-rush, and stubble. 
And she shall get the wine that comes from the elements of 
the steep bens. 
Oh ! ho ! the steep bens. 



270 



OIBRE 




CRONAN BLEOGHAN [P9] 

HIG, a Mhuire, 's bligh a bho, 
Thig, a Bhride, 's comraig i, 
rhig, a Chaluim-chille chaoimh, 
'S iadh do dha laimh mu m' bhoin. 
Ho m' aghan, ho m' agh gaoil, 
Ho m' aghan, ho m' agh gaoil. 
Ho m' aghan, ho m' agh gaoil, 
M' aghan cri, coir, gradhach, 

An sgath an Ard Righ gabh ri d' laogh. 



Thig, a Mhuire, dh' fliios mo bho, 
Thig, a Bhride mhor na loin, 
Thig, a bhanachaig losda Criosda, 
'S cur do lamh a nios fo m' bhoin. 
Ho m' aghan, ho m' agh gaoil. 

Bo lurach dhubh, bo na h-airidh. 
Bo a bha-theach, mathair laogh, 
Luban sioniain air crodh na tire, 
Buarach shiod air m' aighean gaoil. 
Ho m' aghan, ho m' agh gaoil. 



Mo bho dhubh, mo bho dhubh, 
Is ionann galar dhomh-s'' is dhuit. 
Thus a caoidh do luran laoigh, 
Mise mo mhac gaoil fo 'n mhuir, 
M'aon mhac gaoil fo 'u mhuir. 



LABOUR 271 



MILKING SONG 

Come, Mary, and milk my cow. 
Come, Bride, and encompass her. 
Come, Columba the benign. 

And twine thine arms around my cow. 
Ho my heifer, ho my gentle heifer, 
Ho my heifer, ho my gentle heifer. 
Ho my heifer, ho my gentle heifer. 
My heifer dear, generous and kind, 

VoT the sake of the Higii King take to thy calf. 

Come, Mary V'irgin, to my cow. 
Come, great Bride, the beauteous. 
Come, thou milkmaid of Jesus Christ, 
And place thine arms beneath my cow. 
Ho my heifer, ho my gentle heifer. 

Lovely black cow, pride of the shieling. 
First cow of the byre, choice mother of calves. 
Wisps of straw round the cows of the townland, 
A shackle of silk on my heifer beloved. 
Ho my heifer, ho my gentle heifer. 

My black cow, my black cow, 
A like sorrow afflicts me and thee. 
Thou grieving for thy lovely calf, 
I for my beloved son under the sea. 
My beloved only son under the sea. 



272 



OIBRE 



BEANNACHADH BUACHAILLEACHD [loo] 



Being a pastoral people, the Highlanders possess much pastoral poetry. The 
greater part of this is secular with fragments of sacred poetry interspersed. The 
herding runes are examples of these purely pastoral poems. They are sung by 
the people as they send their flocljs to the pastures, or tend them on the hills, 
glens, or plains. The customs vary in details in different districts, but every- 
where is the simple belief that the King of shepherds watches over men and 
flocks now as of old — ' the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.' 

When a man has taken his herd to the pasture in the morning, and has got a 
knoll between himself and them, he bids_ them a tender adieu, waving his hand, 
perhaps both hands, towards them, saying: — 



' Buachailleachd Bride dh' an tan, 
Buan is slan dh' an till sibh. 

• Munachas Mhuire Mhathar dhuibh, 
Luth is Ian gun till sibh. 



The herding of Bride to the kine. 
Whole and well may you return. 

The prosperity of Mary Mother be yours. 
Active and full may you return. 




OMRAIG Dhe is Dliomhnuich dhuibh. 
Comraig Chriosd a chomhnuidh dhuibh, 
Comraig Charmaig 's Chaluim-chille, 
Comraig Chairbre, falbh 's a tilleadh. 
Is comraig Airighil oirghil oirbh, 
Comraig Airighil oirghil oirbh. 

Comraig Bhride mhuime dhuibh, 
Comraig Mhoire bhuidhe dhuibh, 
losa Criosda, Mac na sithe, 
Righ nan righre, muir is tire. 
Is Spioraid siochaint, suthainn, dhuibh, 
Spioraid siochaint, suthainn, dhuibh. 



LABOUR 



273 



HERDING BLESSING 

' Curaraig Chalura-chille ma'r casaibh. The safeguard of Columba round your feet, 
Gu mu slan gun till sibh dachaidh. Whole be your return home. 



' Micheal rain-gheal righ nan aigheal 
D'ur dion, 's d"ur gleidheadh's d'ur 
comhnadh. 

' Coraraig Dhe is Dhomhnach dhuibh 
Gum faic mise no rao chroilean sibli. 
' Cobhair Choibhi dhuibh. 



Be the bright Michael king of the angels 
Protecting, and keeping, and saving 
you. 

The guarding of God and the Lord be yours 
Till I or mine shall see you again. 
The help of Coivi to you. 



' Siubhal coire, siubhal coiUe, 
Siubhal comhnaird fada sola, 
Buachailleachd mhin na Moire 
Bhith mu'r cinn 's niu'r com 's rau'r 
cobhair.' 



Travelling coire, travelling cop.se. 
Travelling meads long and grassy. 
The lierding of the fair Mary 
Be about your head, your body, and aiding 
you. 

When these patriarchal benedictions are intoned or chanted, and the music floats 
over moor and loch, the effect is charming to the ear of the hstener. 



The keeping of God and the Lord on you. 
The keeping of Christ always on you. 
The keeping of Carmac and of Columba on you, 
The keeping of Cairbre on you going and coming, 
And the keeping of Ariel the gold-bright on you. 
The king of Ariel the gold-bright on you. 



The keeping of Bride the foster-mother on you, 
The keeping of Mary the yellow-haired on you, 
Of Christ Jesus, the Son of peace. 
The King of kings, land and sea. 
And the peace-giving Spirit, everlasting, be yours. 
The peace-giving Spirit, everlasting, be yours. 



274 



OIBRE 




BEANNACHADH BUACHAILLEACHD [loi] 



UIRIDH mi an ni seo romham. 
Mar a dli' orduich Righ an domhan, 
Bride ''g an gleidheadh, V an coimhead, 's 'g an comhnadh, 
Air bheann, air ghleann, air chomhnard, 

Bride 'g an gleidheadh, 'g an coimhead, 's 'g an 

comhnadii. 
Air bheann, air ghleann, air chomhnard. 

Eirich, a Bhride mhin-gheal, 
Glac do lion, do chir, agus V fholt, 
Bho rinn thu daibh eolas amhra, 
'G an cumail bho chall is bho lochd, 

Bho rinn thu daibh eolas amhra, 

'G an cumail bho chall is bho lochd. 

Bho chreag, bho chathan, bho allt, 

Bho chadha cam, bho mhille sluic, 

Bho shaighde reang nam ban seanga sith, 

Bho chridhe mhi-ruin, bho shuil an uilc, 

Bho shaighde reang nam ban seanga sith, 
Bho chridhe mhi-ruin, bho shuil an uilc. 



Mhoire Mhathair, cuallaich an t-al gu leir, 
Bhride nam basa mine, dion domh mo spreidh, 
Chaluim chaoimh, a naoimh nan ioma buadh, 
Comraig dhotnh crodh an ail, bairig dhonih buar, 
Chaluim chaoimh, a naoimh nan ioma buadh, 
Comraig dhomh crodh an ail, bairig dhomh buar. 



LABOUR 275 



HERDING BLESSING 

I WILL place this flock before iiie, 

As was ordained of the King of the world. 

Bride to keep them, to watch them, to tend them, 

On ben, on glen, on plain. 

Bride to keep them, to watch them, to tend them, 

On ben, on glen, on plain. 

Arise, thou Bride the gentle, the fair, 

Take thou thy lint, thy comb, and thv hair. 

Since thou to them madest the noble charm. 

To keep them from straying, to save them from harm. 
Since thou to them madest the noble charm. 
To keep them from straying, to save them from harm. 

From rocks, from drifts, from streams, 

From crooked passes, from destructive pits. 

From the straight arrows of the slender ban-shee. 

From the heart of envy, from the eye of evil. 

From the straight arrows of the slender ban-shee. 
From the heart of envy, from the eye of evil. 

Mary Mother, tend thou the offspring all. 
Bride of the fair palms, guard thou my flocks, 
Kindly Columba, thou saint of many powers. 
Encompass thou the breeding cows, bestow on me herds, 
Kindly Columba, thou saint of many powers. 
Encompass thou the breeding cows, bestow on me 
herds. 



276 OIBRE 



BEANNACHADH BUACHAILLEACHD [102] 

lUBHAL beinne, siubhal baile, 
Siubhal featha fada, farsuinn, 
Buachailleachd Mhic De mu'r casaibh, 
Buan is reidh gun teid sibh dachaidh, 
Buachailleachd Mhic De muV casaibh, 
Buan is reidh gun teid sibh dachaidh. 

Comraig Charmaig is Chaluim-chille 
Bhith d' ar tearmad a falbli 's a tilleadh, 
Agus banachaig nam basa mine, 
Bride nan or chiabh donn, 

Agus banachaig nam basa mine, 

Bride nan or chiabh donn. 




LABOUR 277 



HERDING BLESSING 

Travelling moorland, travelling townland, 

Travelling mossland long and wide. 

Be the herding of God the Son about your feet, 

Safe and whole may ye home return. 

Be the herding of God the Son about your feet, 
Safe and whole may ye home return. 

The sanctuary of Carmac and of Columba 
Be protecting vou going and coming. 
And of the milkmaid of the soft palms. 
Bride of the clustering hair golden brown. 
And of the milkmaid of the soft palms, 
Bride of the clusterino- hair golden brown. 



S 2 



278 



OIBRE 




COMRAIG NAM BA [los] 

LARAGAN reidh, fada, farsuinn, 
Faileagan feile fo V casan, 
Cairdeas Mhic De dh' ar toir dhachaidh 
Gu faiche nam fuaran, 
Faiche nam fuaran. 

Gum bu duinte duibh gach slochd. 
Gum bu sumhail duibh gach cnoc. 
Gum bu clumhaidh duibh gach nochd, 
Am fochar nam fuar-bheann, 
Fochar nam fuar-bheann. 



Comraig Pheadail agus Phoil, 
Comraig Sheumais agus Eoin, 
Comraig Bhride mhin '.s Mhuir Oigh, 
Dh' ar comhlach ''s dh' ar cuallach, 
O ! comraig gach aon dh' an chomhl 
Dh' ar comhnadh 's dh'' ar cuanadh. 



LABOUR 279 



THE PROTECTION OF THE CATTLE 

Pastures smooth, long, and spreading, 
Grassy meads aneath your feet. 
The friendship of God the Son to bring you home 
To the field of the fountains, 
Field of the fountains. 

Closed be every pit to you. 
Smoothed be every knoll to you. 
Cosy every exposure to you. 
Beside the cold mountains. 

Beside the cold mountains. ' 

The care of Peter and of Paul, 

The care of James and of John, 

The care of Bride fair and of Mary Virgin, 

To meet you and to tend you. 
Oh ! the care of aU the band 
To protect you and to strengthen you. 



280 



OIBRE 




GLEIDHEADH TREUID [i04] 



UN gleidheadh Moire min an ciob, 
Gun gleidheadh Bride bith an ciob. 
Gun gleidheadh Calum-cille an ciob, 
Gun gleidheadh Maol-ribhe an ciob. 
Gun gleidheadh Carmag an ciob, 
O'n mhi-chu 's o^i mharbh-chu. 



Gun gleidheadh Odhran an crodh. 
Gun gleidheadh Maodhan an crodh, 
Gun gleidheadh Donnan an crodh, 
Gun gleidheadh Moluag an crodh. 
Gun gleidheadh Maolruan an crodh, 
Am boglach 's an crualach. 



Gun gleidheadh Spiorad foir an treud. 
Gun gleidheadh Mac Moir Oigh an trend, 
Gun gleidheadh Ti na gloir an treud, 
Gun gleidheadh an Teoir an treud, 
Bho reubain 's bho mhearchall, 

Bho reubain 's bho mhearchall. 



LABOUR 281 



GUARDING THE FLOCKS 

May Mary the mild keep the sheep, 
May Bride the cahii keep the sheep, 
May Coluniba keep the sheep, 
May Maolruba keep the sheep, 
May Cai'mac keep the sheep. 
From the fox and the wolf. 

May Oran keep the kine. 
May Modan keep the kine. 
May Donnan keep the kine, 
May Moluag keep the kine. 
May Maolruan keep the kine, 
On soft land and hard land. 

May the Spirit of peace preserve the flocks. 
May the Son of Mary Virgin preserve the flocks, 
May the God of glory preserve the flocks, 
May the Three preserve the flocks. 
From wounding and from death-loss. 

From wounding and from death-loss. 



282 



OIBRE 




CRONAN CUALLAICH 

N crodh an diugh a dol imirig, 
Hill-i-ruin is o h-ug o, 
Ho ro la ill o, 
Hill-i-ruin is o h-ug o, 
Dol a dh' itheadh feur na cille, 

Hill-i-ruin is o h-ug o, 
Am buachaille fein ann 'g an iomain, 
Ho ro la ill o, 
Hill-i-ruin is o h-ug o, 
'G an cuallach, 'g an cuart, V an tilleadh, 

Hill-i-ruin is o h-ug o, 
Bride bhith-gheal bhi 'g am blighinn, 

Hill-i-ruin is o h-ug o, 
Muire mhin-gheal bhi 'g an glidheadh, 

Hill-i-ruin is o h-ug o, 
'S losa Criosda air chinn an slighe, 
losa Criosda air chinn an slighe. 
Hill-i-ruin is o h-u£ o. 



[105] 



LABOUR 283 



A HERDING CROON 

The cattle are to-day going a-flitting, 

Hlll-i-ruin is o h-iig o. 

Ho ro la ill o, 

riTll-i-riiin is o h-iig o, 
Going to eat the grass of the burial-place, 

HlU-i-ruin is o h-ug o. 
Their own herdsman there to tend them, 

Ho ro la ill o, 

Hlll-i-ruin is o h-Cig o. 
Tending them, fending them, turning them, 

Hlll-i-ruin is o h-ug o. 
Be the gentle Bride milking them, 

Hlll-i-ruin is o h-ug o. 
Be the lovely Mary keeping them, 

Hlll-i-ruin is o h-iig o. 
And Jesu Christ at the end of their journey, 
Jesu Christ at the end of their journey. 

Hlll-i-ruin is o h-fl'r o. 



284 



OIBRE 



BEANNACHADH GUIR 



[106] 



The reciter of this poem, Donald Maclean, was a native of the parish of Small 
Isles. He emigrated with many others to Canada. After an absence of many 
years he returned, as he said, ' Feuch am faighinn larach mo dha bhonn a 
bhothan, agus leathad mo dha shlinnein a dh' uaigh ann am fearann mo 
dhuthchais agiis ann an uir m' aithriche ' — ' To see if I could get the site of 
my two soles of a bothy and the breadth of my two shoulders of a grave in the 
land of my lieredity and in the lair of ray fathers.' Not having obtained these 
in the land of his birth, Donald Maclean returned to the land of his adoption. 

Maclean heard this poem, and many other poems and tales, in Canada from a 
woman called ' Sorcha Chlann Radhail,' Clara Clanranald, beside whom he lived 
for sixteen years. When so many of the small crofts of Uist were converted 
into large farms, the people removed and not absorbed among the remaining 
crofters, emigrated to Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Cape Breton. 
Clara Clanranald's people had been evicted from Ormacleit, South Uist. She 
spoke so much of Uist and of the Clanranalds that she came to be known by 
the name of her loved chief. 

When Donald Maclean left Canada, ten or twelve years ago, Clara was 
102 years of age. She was still active and industrious, and in the possession of 
all her faculties, and of all her love for ' the old land.' When Maclean went to 
bid her good-bye she took his hand in her two hands, and looking him full in the 
face with her large lustrous blue eyes moist with tears, said : — 

' Tha thu falbh a ghaoil a Dhomhnuill, agus Dia mor bhi eadar do dha 




IRIDH mi nioch maduinn Luan, 

Gabhaidh mi mo rann 's mo dhuan, 

Theid mi deiseil le mo chuaich, 

Gu nead mo chearc le beachd na buaidh. 



Cuiream mo lamh thoisg ri m' chich, 
Mo lamh dheas ri taic mo chridh, 
larram gliocas graidh an Ti, 
Ta pailt ail agli, an al 's an iii. 

Duineam mo dha shuil air ball. 
Mar dhallan-da ni snagan mall, 
Sineam mo lamh chli a null 
Gu nead mo ehirc an taobli ud thall. 



LABOUR 285 



HATCHING BLESSING 

shiinnein. Bu hi fein an deagh nabaidh agus an caraide caorah. Ma 's a h-e 
ugus gun ruig thu null fearann do dhuthchais agus duthaich do bhreith, agus 
gum feuraair thu tilleadh a nail dh'an fhonn-sa rithist, tha mise cur mar 
bhoid agus mar bhriathar ort, agus mar naoi riaraiche nam bana-sith, thu dhol gu 
ruig Cladh Mhicheil ann an Orraacleit, an TJibhist, agus thu thoir as a sin 
thugam-sa deannan beag urach a churar air clar mo chridhe-sa la mo bhais. 
' Agus Micheal caorah-gheal, cro-gheal, cra-gheal, 
Ga do dhiona, ga do chaorahna, ga do charamh, 
Le treuin a lairahe, le nimh a ghaise, 
Fo sgaile driUeanach a sgeith.' 
' Thou art going away, beloved Donald, and may the great God be between 
thy two shoulders. Thou thyself wert the good neighbour and the kind friend. 
If it be that thou reach the land of thy heredity and the country of thy birth, 
and that thou shouldst have to come back again to the land of thine adoption, 
I place it upon thee as a vow and as a charge, and as the nine fulfilments of the 
fairy women, that thou go to the burial-place of Michael at Ormacleit in Uist, 
and bring to me from there a little earth that shall be placed upon the tablet of 
my heart the day that 1 die. 

' And may Michael kind-white, strong-white, red-white. 
Preserve thee, protect thee, provide for thee. 
With the might of his hand, with the point of his spear, 
Under the shade of his shimmering shield.' 

I WILL rise early on the morning of Monday, 

I will sing my rune and rhyme, 

I will go sunwise with my cog 

To the nest of my hen with sure intent. 

I will place my left hand to my breast. 
My right hand to my heart, 
I will seek the loving wisdom of Him 
Abundant in grace, in broods, and in flocks. 

I will close my two eyes quickly. 
As in blind-man's buff moving slowly ; 
I will stretch my left hand over thither 
To the nest of my hen on yonder side. 



286 OIBRE 



An ceud ugh a bheir mi m' theann, 
Cuiream tuathal e air mo cheann, 



Togam mo lamh thoisg an suas, 
Sineam i gun chlos gu luath, 
Togam an da ugh an nuas, 
Bithidh an uair sin tri 's a chuaich. 

Sineam mo lamh dheas a ris, 
Togam leath 's a ghreis a tri, 
larram riaghladh air an Righ, 
Bithidh, mo riar, a sia 's an linn. 

Lamh mo thoisg an dara h-uair, 
Togam ceithir leath an nuas, 
An ainm Chriosda Righ nam buadh, 
Bithidh an uair sin deich 's a chuaich. 

An dorn deas is treasa coir, 
Togam leis a dha fo m' mheoir, 
Bithidh aig sgur mo ghur gun sgod, 
Fo uchd na circe brice moir. 

Cuiream suidhe air an da cheann. 
Is mi mar bhalbhan balbh 's an am. 
An ainm Chruithcar mhuir is bheann, 
An ainm gach naoimh is ostail ann. 

An ainm Thrianailt uile naoimh, 
An ainm Chalum-chille chaoimh, 
Cuiream iad fo chirc Di-ardaoin. 
Thig an t-alach aigh Di-aoin. 



LABOUR 287 

The first egg which I shall bring near me, 
I will put it withershins round my head. 



I will raise my left hand on high, 
I wiU stretch it without halt quickly, 
I will lift the two eggs down hither. 
There shall be then three in the cog. 

I will stretch my right hand again, 

I will lift with it at the time three, 

I will seek ruling from the King, 

Then verily there shall be sis in the clutch. 

I will raise my left hand the second time, 
I will lift four with it down, 
In name of Christ, King of power. 
There shall then be ten in the cog. 

The right fist of strongest claim, 
I will lift with it two in my fingers. 
Thus at ceasing my brood will be complete. 
Beneath the breast of the speckled big hen. 

I will put soot on their two ends. 
And I dumb as the dumb the while. 
In name of Creator of sea and hill. 
In name of saints and apostles all. 

In name of the most Holy Trinity, 

In name of Columba kindly, 

I will set the eggs on Thursday, 

The gladsome brood will come on Friday. 



288 



OIBRE 



COMHARRACHADH NAN UAN 



[107] 



The marking of the lambs is done on Thursday, being St Coluraba's Day. Upon 
no account would the people mark their lambs on Friday, or in any manner draw 
blood on that day. Nor till lately wovdd they use iron in any form on Friday. 

A blacksmith in Benbecula, a Protestant, an excellent man and an admirable 
tradesman, never opened his smithy on Friday. He maintained that 'that was 
the least he could do to honour his Master. ' 

When the lambs are marked, the people collect the bits taken out of their ears, 
and carefully bury them beyond the reach of beast or bird. They say that a plant, 
which they call ' gearradh-chluasach,' literally ear-cuts, ear-clips, grows from 
them. This plant is generally found growing where a carcase has been bui-ied, 
and when ripe, it is cut, tied up in a bunch, and suspended from the 'casan 
ceanghail,' couple above the door of the lamb-cot, and dedicated to 



' Moire mhin-gheal nan grasa buan. 
Air shealbh chaorach air ghaol uan.' 



The fair-white Mary of lasting graces. 
For luck of sheep and love of lambs. 




The marks made on the ears of sheep and lambs are varied and 
descriptive in name, as : — ' barr,' ' beum,' ' cluigean,' ' cliopan,' 



IDH mo sgiaii ur, geur, glan, gun mheirg, 

Mo bhreacaii fo ni' ghliin le mo luiiich dheirg, 
Cuiream deiseil mo chleibh an ceud blieum gu sealbli, 
An ath fhear na dheigh leis a ghreiii mar ni falbh. 

Uan firionn gun ghaoid, air aon dath, gun chearb, 
Leig a mach ris an raon, fhuil chraobhach na tearb, 
Ma mhaireas a chraobh air an fhraoch le barr dearg, 
Bith mo .shealbhan gun ghaoid fad 's nach caochail 
mi 'n t-ainm. 



An Triuir ta shuas an Cathair nam buadh, 
Bhi buachailleachd mo threuid is mo bhuair, 
'G an iomachair ri teas, ri gaillinn 's ri fuachd, 
Le beannachd nam buadh 'g an saodadh a nuas 
Bho 'n tulaich ud shuas gu airidh. 



LABOUR 289 



MARKING THE LAMBS 

'cliopadh,' 'crocan,' 'corran,' 'duile,' 'meaglilan,' 'meangan,' 'sgolta,' 'slios,' 
'snathad,' ' sidag,' 'toU.' These marks and their modifications are said to 
number over 250 in the island of Benbecula, in the island of North Uist over 
480, and in the island of South Uist over 500. The people know all these marks 
and modifications at a glance. 

When a man marries, it is considered a good omen of the union when the 
marks on his own sheep and those on the sheep brought him by his wife are 
nearly alike, and the necessary change easily effected. 

' lARBATAS NA CAOIRE BIGE. THE REUUEST OF THE LITTLE SHEEP. 

Na lom mo cheann. Do not clip my head, 

'S na loisg mo chnarahan.' And do not burn my bones. 

The smaU native sheep have a long tuft of wool called ' sguman ' coming down 
the face. They are hardy, picturesque little animals, almost wholly free from 
the innumerable diseases which the larger but softer breeds of sheep have 
brought in their train. The sheep is regarded with a veneration which is not 
extended to the cow or other animals. 

My knife will be new, keen, clean, without stain. 

My plaid beneath my knee with my red robe, 

I will put sunwise round my breast the first cut for luck, 

The next one after that with the sun as it moves. 

A male lamb without blemish, of one colour, without defect, 
Allow thou out on the plain, nor his flowing blood check. 
If the froth remains on the heather with red top. 
My flock will be without flaw as long as I change not the 
name. 

The Three who are above in the City of glory, 
Be shepherding my flock and my kine. 
Tending them duly in heat, in storm, and in cold. 
With the blessing of power driving them down 
From yonder height to the sheiling fold. 

T 



290 OIBRE 

Ainm Airil is ailne snuadh, 
Ainm Ghabril fadh an Uairi, 
Ainm Raphail flath nam buadh, 
'G an cuartach is 'g an tearnadh. 

Ainm Mhuiril is Mhuire Oigh, 
Ainm Plieadail agus Phoil, 
Ainm Sheumais agus Eoin, 
Gach aingheal 's ostal air an toir, 
''G an gleidheadh beo le 'n alach, 

'G an gleidheadh beo le 'n alach. 



LABOUR 291 

The name of Ariel of beauteous bloom, 
The name of Gabriel herald of the Lamb, 
The name of Raphael prince of power. 
Surrounding them and saving them. 

The name of Muriel and of Mary Virgin, 
The name of Peter and of Paul, 
The name of James and of John, 
Each angel and apostle on their track. 
Keeping them alive and their progeny, 

Keeping them alive and their progeny. 



292 



OIBRE 




AM BEANNACHD LOMBAIDH [los] 

When a man has shorn a sheep and has set 

ALBH lom 's thig molach, 
Beir am boirionn Bealltain, 
Bride mhin a bhi dha d' chonaill. 
Moire gheal dha f aurais, 

Moire gheal dha f aurais. 

Micheal mil a bhi dha d' dhion 
Bho 'n mhi-chu is bho 'n an-chu, 
Bho 'n mhac-tir 's bho 'n mhadhan stig, 
'S bho ianaibh ineach call-ghob, 
Bho ianaibh ineach cam-shob. 



LABOUR 293 



THE CLIPPING BLESSING 

it free, he waves his hand after it and says : — 

Go shorn and come woolly. 
Bear the Beltane female lamb, 
Be the lovely Bride thee endowing, 
And the fair Mary thee sustaining. 
The fair Mary sustaining thee. 

Michael the chief be shielding thee 
From the evil dog and from the fox. 
From the wolf and from the sly bear, 
And from the taloned birds of destructive bills, 
From the taloned birds of hooked bills. 



294 



OIBRE 



DUAN DEILBH 



[109] 



During the winter months the women of Highland households are up late and 
early at ' calanas ' — this comprehensive term embracing the whole process of 
wool-working from the raw material to the finished cloth. The process is an 
important factor in the internal economy of a Highland family. The industry 
of these women is wonderful, performed lovingly, uncomplainingly, day after 
day, year after year, till the sands of life run down. The life in a Highland 
home of the crofter class is well described in the following lines : — 



' Air oidhche fhada gheamhraidh 
Theid teanndadh ri gniamh, 
A toir eolas do chloinn 
Bith an seann duine liath. 
An nighean a cardadh, 
A mhathair a sniamh. 
An t-iasgair le a shnathaid 
A caramh a lian.' 



In the long winter night 
AU are engaged. 
Teaching the young 
Is the grey-haired sage. 
The daughter at her carding. 
The mother at her wheel, 
While the fisher mends his net 
With his needle and his reel. 



' Calanas ' is an interesting process. The wool is carefully sorted and the 
coarser parts put aside. It is then washed and laid out to dry, and again 
examined and teased, and aU lumps and refuse taken out. 

If the wool is meant to be made into very fine cloth, it is drawn on combs of 
specially long teeth ; if into ordinary cloth, it is carded on the cards without 
going through the combs. After carding, the wool is made into ' rolagan,' 
rowans, and spun into thread, which is arranged into hanks. At this stage the 
thread is generally dyed, although occasionally the wool is dyed after the 
teasing process and before being carded. The work of dyeing 
requires much care and knowledge and practical skill. It is 
done with native plants gathered with patient care from the 
rocks and hills, moors and fields and lakes, and with certain 
earths. When it is considered that a thorough knowledge of 

AORN nam buadh. 

Gu deilbh 's gu luadh, 

Bidh ceud gu leth dual 

Ri aireamh. 

Snath gorm gu math caol, 
Dha gheala ri a thaobh, 
Agus sgarlaid ri taobh 
A mhadair. 




LABOUR 295 



THE CHANT OF THE WARPING 

plants is necessary, their locality, their colouring properties, whether of root, 
stem, or leaf, and the stage of growth or decay, it will be understood that those 
who use them need much intelligence AH Highland women are practical 
dyers, some more skilful than others. From infancy they are trained in 
' calanas,' and in plants and dyeing ; the whole clothing, including the blankets, 
of the household being dependent upon their skill and industry. Are there any 
other women in any class who can show such widespread skill and intelligence 
as these Highland women show in wool-working and dyeing operations ? 
Home-made tartans and other fabrics, made many generations, sometimes 
centuries, ago, are not only wonderfully fine in texture, but all the different 
colours are remarkably bright and beautiful. 

The Celts must have had an eye for colour in very early times. The Book 
of Kells is said by experts to be the most beautiful illuminated manuscript in the 
world. It is believed to have been written in the Columban monastery of lona, 
and to have escaped the Norse destruction of mss. and been carried to the 
Columban monastery of KeUs. Not only are the forms of the initial letters in 
the MS. marvellously intricate and artistic, but the different pigments used in 
colouring are still bright and beautiful and fresh, while the colouring of copies 
made during this century is already sickly and faded. 

The pattern of the tartan or other cloth to be woven is first designed on a 
small piece of wood, the thread being placed on the wood according to the 
design proposed. This is called ' suidheachadh,' setting. It is a work that 
requires patient care and skill in order to bring out the pattern correctly. 

The Chant of the Warping is feehngly intoned by the women in warping the 
web. When a word or a phrase has struck their minds, they stop singing in 
order to emphasise the sentiment in a word or a phrase of their own, beseeching 
Mary's beloved Son to give them strength to observe His laws. These pious 
interjections and momentary stoppages may not add to the beauty of the 
singing, but they do to the picturesqueness. 

Thursday of beneficence, 
For warping and waulking, 
An hundred and fifty strands there shall be 
To number. 

Blue thread, very fine. 
Two of white by its side, 
And scarlet by the side 
Of the madder. 



296 OIBRE 

Bidh mo dheilbh gu math reidh, 
Thoir do beannachd dhomh, Dhe, 
Is do gach uile fo m' chleith 
'S an fhardaich. 

A Mhicheil, aingil nam buadh, 
A Mhoire mhin-ghil tha shuas, 
A Chriosd, a Bhuachaill an t-sluagh. 
Dean bhur beannachd bi-bhiian 
A bhairig. 

Do gach neach laigheas sios, 
An ainni Athar is Chriosd, 
Agus Spiorad na siochaint 
Ghrasmhor. 

Crath a nuas oirnn mar dhriuchd, 
Gliocas caon na ban chiiiin, 
Nach do dhibir riamh iiil 
An Ard Righ. 

Cum air falbh gach droch shuil, 
Gach uile mhuinntir droch ruin, 
Coisrig cur agus dluth 
Gach snathla. 

Cur do ghairdean mu 'n cuairt. 
Air gach te bhios ga luadh, 
Agus dean a tearmad aig uair 
A saruich. 

Thoir domh subhailcean mor, 
Mar bh' aig Muire ri a lo, 
Chum 's gun sealbhaich mi gloir 
An Ard Righ. 



LABOUR 297 

My warp shall be very even. 
Give to me Thy blessing, O God, 
And to all who are beneath my roof 
In the dwelling. 

Michael, thou angel of power, 
Mary fair, who art above, 
Christ, Thou Shepherd of the people. 
Do ye your eternal blessing 
Bestow 

On each one who shall lie down. 
In name of the Father and of Christ, 
And of the Spirit of peacefulness. 
And of grace. 

Sprinkle down on us like dew 
The gracious wisdom of the mild woman. 
Who neglected never the guidance 
Of the High King. 

Ward away every evil eye. 
And all people of evil wishes. 
Consecrate the woof and the warp 
Of every thread. 

Place Thou Thine arm around 
Each woman who shall be waulking it, 
And do Thou aid her in the hour 
Of her need. 

Give to me virtues abundant. 
As Mary had in her day. 
That I may possess the glory 
Of the High King. 



298 OIBRE 

Bho 'n 's tus a Dhe tha toir fas, 
Do gach gne agus gnaths, 
Thoir dhuinn olainn thar bharr 
An fheuir ghlais. 

Coisrig sealbh anns gach ait, 
Le 'n iiain bheaga bhinne bhath. 
Is cuir an lionnihoireachd al 
Ar treudais. 

Chum 's gu 'm faigh sinn diubh cloimh, 
Bainne sultmhor r' a ol. 
Is nach bi gainn oirnn a chomhdach 
Eirigh. 



LABOUR 299 

Since Thou, O God, it is who givest growth, 
To each species and kind, 
Give us wool from the surface 
Of the green grass. 

Consecrate the flock in every place, 
With their little lambs melodious, innocent, 
And increase the generations 
Of our herds. 

So that we may obtain from them wool, 
And nourishing milk to drink, 
And that no dearth may be ours 
Of day clothing. 



300 



OIBRE 




BEANNACHD BEAIRTE 

UIDHEAGAN no corr do shnath 
Cha do chum 's cha chum mo lamh. 

Gach dath a ta 's a bhogha-fhrois 
Chaidh troimh mo mheoirean fo na chrois, 

Geal is dubh, dearg is madar, 
Uaine, ciar-ghlas, agus sgarlaid, 

Gorm, is grisionn 's dath na caorach, 
'S caoibean cha robh dhith air aodach. 



[110] 



Guidhim Bride bith na faolachd, 
Guidhim Muire min na gaolachd, 
Guidhim losa Criosd na daonnachd, 
Gun mi fein dhol eug a 'n aonais, 

Gun mi fein dhol eug a "n aonais. 



LABOUR 301 



LOOM BLESSING 

Thrums nor odds of thread 

My hand never kept, nor shall keep. 

Every colour in the bow of the shower 

Has gone through my fingers beneath the cross, 

White and black, red and madder. 
Green, dark grey, and scarlet. 

Blue, and roan, and colour of the sheep. 
And never a particle of cloth was wanting. 

I beseech calm Bride the generous, 
I beseech mild Mary the loving, 
I beseech Christ Jesu the humane. 
That I may not die without them, 

That I may not die without them. 



302 



OIBRE 



SUIDHEACHADH NA H-IOMAIRT [ni] 

' Imibt,' ' iomairt,' ' iumairt,' ' umairt ' is cloth striped lengthwise, not crosswise. 
While the warp of the ' iomairt ' is composed of stripes of various colours, the 
weft is confined to one— generally hght blue, dark blue, or black. This cloth 
was confined to women's use, in the ' earasaid,' the ' tonnag,' the ' guaileachan,' 
and the petticoat. Setting the 'iomairt,' Uke setting 

N dubh mu n gheal, 
An geal mu'n dubh, 
An t-uain am meadhon an deirg. 
An dearg am meadhon an duibh. 

An dubh am meadhon an deirg. 
An dearg am meadhon a ghil, 
An geal am meadhon an uaine, 
An t-uaine am meadhon a ghil. 

An geal am meadhon a ghuirm, 
An gorm am meadhon na sgarlaid. 




An sgarlaid ris a ghorm, 
An gorm ris an sgarlaid. 
An sgarlaid ris an dubh, 
An dubh ris an sgarlaid. 

Snathla ri da shnathla 
Do dha dhath. 
Da shnathla dhubh, 
Ri aon snathla geal. 

Seachd snathla ri coig, 
Coig ri tri, 
Tri ri dha, 
Dha ri aon, 
Anns gach oir. 



LABOUR 303 



SETTING THE lOMAIRT 

other warp, and setting the eggs, and many other operations of the people, was 
done on Thursday, that being the day of St Columba. Framing the web is a 
work of much anxiety to the housewife, and she and her maidens are up very 
early to put the thread in order. 

The thread of the • iomairt,' Uke that of the tartan, was very fine, hard-spun 
and double twisted, rendering the cloth extremely durable. 

The black by the white, 

The white by the black. 

The green in the middle of the red, 

The red in the middle of the black. 

The black in the middle of the red. 
The red in the nnddle of the white. 
The white in the middle of the green. 
The green in the middle of the white. 

The white in the middle of the blue. 
The blue in the middle of the scarlet, 



The scarlet to the blue, 
The blue to the scarlet, 
The scarlet to the black. 
The black to the scarlet. 

A thread to two threads 
Of two colours. 
Two threads of black 
To one thread of white. 

Seven threads to five, 
Five to three. 
Three to two. 
Two to one. 
In each border. 



304 



OIBRE 



BEANNACHADH GARMAIN 



[U2] 




In the Outer Isles women generally do the weaving, while in the 
Inner Isles and on the mainland it is usually done by men. 

In Uist, when the woman stops weaving on Saturday night she 
arefully ties up her loom and suspends the cross or crucifix above 



EANNAICH, a Thriath nam flath fial, 
Mo bheirt 's gach sian a ta 'n am choir, 
Beannaich, mi 'n am uile ghniomh 
Dean mi tiaruinte ri m' bheo. 

Bho gach gruagach is ban-shith, 
Bho gach miorun agus bron, 
Cuidich mi, a Chuidich-Thi, 
Fad 's a bhios mi 'n tir nam beo. 

An ainm Mhuire mhin nam feart, 
Chalum-chille cheart nam buadh, 
Coistrig ceithir phuist mo bheairt, 
Gun am beairtich mi Di-luain. 

A casachan, a slinn, 's a spal, 
A h-iteachean, a snath, 's a gual, 
A crann-aodaich, 's a crann-snath, 
Fuidheagan is snath nan dual. 

Gach aodach dubh, geal, is ban, 
Grisionn, lachdunn, sgaireach, ruadh, 
Thoir do bheannachd anns gach ait. 
Air gach spal a theid fo dhual. 

Mar sin bidh mo bheairt gun bheud, 
Gu'n an eirich mi Di-luain ; 
Bheir Muire mhin-gheal dhomh dh' a speis, 
'S cha bhi eis air nach faigh mi buaidh. 



LABOUR 305 



LOOM BLESSING 

the sleay. This is for the purpose of keeping away the brownie, the banshee, the 
' peallan,' and all evil spirits and malign influences from disarranging the thread 
and the loom. And all this is done with loving care and in good faith, and in 
prayer and purity of heart. 

Bless, O Chief of generous chiefs, 
My loom and everything a-near me. 
Bless me in my every action. 
Make Thou me safe while I live. 

From every brownie and fairy woman. 

From every evil wish and sorrow. 

Help me, O Thou helping Being, 

As long as I shall be in the land of the living. 

In name of Mary, mild of deeds, 
In name of Columba, just and potent, 
Consecrate the four posts of my loom, 
Till I begin on Monday. 

Her pedals, her sleay, and her shuttle. 
Her reeds, her warp, and her cogs. 
Her cloth-beam, and her thread-beam. 
Thrums and the thread of the plies. 

Every web, black, white, and fair. 

Roan, dun, checked, and red. 

Give Thy blessing everywhere. 

On every shuttle passing under the thread. 

Thus will my loom be unharmed, 

Till I shall arise on Monday ; 

Beauteous Mary will give me of her love. 

And there shall be no obstruction I shall not overcome. 

U 



306 OIBRE 



COISRIGEADH AN AODAICH [ii3] 

Formerly throughout the Highlands and Islands the cloth for the family was 
made at home. At present home-made clothing is chiefly made in the Islands, 
and even there to a lesser extent than formerly. 

After the web of cloth is woven it is waulked, to thicken and strengthen and 
brighten it. The frame on which the cloth is waulked is a board some twelve to 
twenty-four feet long and about two feet broad, grooved lengthwise along its 
surface. The frame is called ' cleith,' wattle, and ' cleith-luaidh,' waulking- 
wattle, probably from its having been originally constructed of wattle-work. 
The waulking-f rame is raised upon trestles, while the waulking-women are ranged 
on seats on either side, about two feet of space being allowed to each woman. 
The web is unrolled and laid along the board. It is then saturated with 
ammonia, warm water, and soap-suds, and the women work it vigorously from 
side to side across the grooves of the frame, slowly moving it lengthwise also, 
that each part of the cloth may receive due attention. The lateral movement 
of the cloth is sunwise. Occasionally the waulking-board is laid on the ground 
instead of on trestles, and the women work the cloth with their feet instead 
of with their hands. 

Generally the waulking-women are young maidens, a few married women of 
good voice being distributed among them. They sing as they work, one singing 
the song, the others the chorus. Their songs are varied, lively, and adapted 
to the class of work. Most of them are love-songs, with an occasional 
impromptu song on some passing event— perhaps on the casual stranger who 
has looked in, perhaps a wit combat between two of the girls about the real 
or supposed merits or demerits of their respective lovers. These wit combats 
are much enjoyed, being often clever, caustic, and apt. 

A favourite subject at these waulkings is Prince Charlie, and a favourite 
song is ' Morag ' — little Marion — the endearing term under which the Prince is 
veiled. The words of the song are vigorous and passionate, and the air stirring, 
while the subject is one to fire the hearts and imaginations of the people even at 
this distance of time, and notwithstanding the spoliations, oppressions, and 
butcheries inflicted on their fathers through their adherence to 'Morag.' 

The song begins as follows : — 

Chorus. ' Agus ho Mhorag, And ho ro Morag, 

Ho ro na ho ro gheallaidh. Ho ro na ho ro darling, 

Agus ho Mhorag. And ho ro Morag. 

Mhorag chiatach a chul dualaich. Beauteous Morag of the clustering locks, 

'S e do luaidh tha tighinn air m' aire. To sing of thee is my intent. 



LABOUR 307 

Ma dh' imicli thu null thar chuan If thou art gone beyond the sea, 

Gu mu luadh thig tliu dachaidh. Prithee hasten home to me. 

Cuimhnich thoir leat bannal ghruagach. Remember, bring a band of maidens, 
A luaidheas an clo-ruadh gu daingean.' Who will waulk the red cloth firmly. 

When the women have waulked the cloth, they roll up the web and place it 
on end in the centre of the frame. They then turn it slowly and deliberately 
sunwise along the frame, saying with each turn of the web : — 

' Chan ath-aodach seo. This is not second clothing. 

Chan fhaoigh seo. This cloth is not thigged. 

Cha chuid cleir no sagairt seo.' This is not the property of cleric or priest. 

Another form is : — 

' Roinn a h-aon, roinn a dha, roinn a Division one, division two, division 

tri, roinn a ceithir, roinn a coig, roinn a three, division four, division five, divi- 

sia, roinn a seachd, roinn a seachd. sion six, division seven, division seven. 

' Chan aodach seo do shagairt no chleir. This is not cloth for priest or cleric, 

Ach 's aodach e do mo Dhomh'lan But it is cloth for my own little Donald 

caomhach fein, of love. 

Do m' chombanach graidh 's do Iain For my companion beloved, for John of 

an aigh, joy, 

'S do Mhuiril is aillidh sgeimh.' And for Muriel of lovehest hue. 

Each member of the household for whom the cloth is intended is mentioned 
by name in the consecration. The cloth is then spat upon, and slowly reversed 
end by end in the name of Father and of Son and of Spirit till it stands again in 
the centre of the frame. The ceremony of consecrating the cloth is usually 
intoned, the women, hitherto gay and vivacious, now solemn and subdued, 
singing in unison. The woman who leads in the consecration is called 
'coisreagan,' consecrator or celebrant. After the cloth is waulked and washed 
it is rolled up. This is called ' coilleachadh ' — stretching, — ' coilleachadh an 
aodaich ' — stretching the cloth, — a process done with great care in order to 
secure equal tension throughout the web. 

The operation of waulking is a singularly striking scene, and one which 
Highlanders cherish wherever situated. 



[pp. 308-9 



308 



OIBRE 



COISRIGEADH AN AODAICH 




S math a ghabhas mi mo rann, 
A teurnadh le gleann ; 
Aon rann, 
Da rann, 
Tri rann, 
Ceithir rann, 
Coig rann, 
Sia rann, 
Seachd rami, 
Seachd gu leth rann 
Seachd gu leth rann. 

Nar a gonar fear an eididh, 

Nar a reubar e gu brath, 

Cian theid e 'n cath no 'n comhrag, 

Sgiath chomarach an Donihnach da, 

Cian theid e 'n cath no 'n comhrag, 

Sgiath chomarach an Domhnach da. 

Chan ath-aodach seo, 's chan fliaoigh e, 
'S cha chuid cleir no sagairt e. 



Biolair uaine ga buain fo lie, 
'S air a toir do mhnai gun fhiosd ; 
Lurg an fheidh an ceann an sgadain, 
'3 an caol chalp a bhradain bhric. 



LABOUR 309 



THE CONSECRATION OF THE CLOTH 

Well can I say my rune, 
Descending with the glen ; 

One rune, 

Two runes, 

Three runes, 

Four runes, 

Five runes, 

Six runes. 

Seven runes, 

Seven and a half runes. 

Seven and a half runes. 

May the man of this clothing never be wounded, 
May torn he never be ; 
What time he goes into battle or combat. 
May the sanctuary shield of the Lord be his. 
What time he goes into battle or combat. 
May the sanctuary shield of the Lord be his. 

This is not second clothing and it is not thigged, 
Nor is it the right of sacristan or of priest. 

Cresses green culled beneath a stone, 

And given to a woman in secret. 

The shank of the deer in the head of the herring, 

And in the slender tail of the speckled salmon. 



U2 



310 



OIBRE 



BEANNACHADH SEILG 



[114] 



A YOUNG man was consecrated before he went out to hunt. Oil was put on his 
head, a bow was placed in his hand, and he was required to stand with bare 
feet on the bare grassless ground. The dedication of the young hunter was 
akin to those of the ' raaor,' the judge, the cliief, and the king, on installa- 
tion. Many conditions were imposed on the young man, 
which he was required to observe throughout hfe. He was 

HO m' leasraidh ghineadh thu a mhic, 
Seolaim thu an t-iul tha ceart, 
An ainm naomh nan aon ostal deug, 
An ainm Mhic De chaidh a reubadh leat. 

An ainm Sheumais, Pheadail, agus Phail, 
Eoin bhaistidh, is Eoin ostail tha shuas, 
Lucais leigh, agus Steafain a chraidh, 
Mhuiril nihin, is Mhoire mathair Uain. 

An ainm Phadra naoimh nam feart, 
Agus Charmaig nan ceart 's nan tuam, 
Chaluim chaoimh, 's Adhamhnain nan reachd, 
Fhite bhith, is Bhride bhliochd is bhuar. 




An ainm Mhicheil mil nan slogh, 
An ainm Airil og nan snuadh, 
An ainm Uiril nan ciabhan oir, 
Agus Ghabrail fadh Oigh nam buadh. 



An trath a dhuineas tu do shuil, 
Cha lub thu do ghlun ''s cha ghluais, 
Cha leon thu lach bhios air an t-snamh, 
Chaoidh cha chreach thu h-alach uaip. 



LABOUR 311 



HUNTING BLESSING 

not to take life wantonly. He was not to kill a bird sitting, nor a beast lying 
down, and he was not to kill the mother of a brood, nor the mother of a 
suckling. Nor was he to kill an unfledged bird nor a suckling beast, unless it 
might be the young of a bird, or of a beast, of prey. It was at all times 
permissible and laudable to destroy certain clearly def ned birds and beasts of 
jirey and evil reptiles, with their young. 

From my loins begotten wert thou, my son, 
May I guide tl:ee the way that is right, 
In the holy name of the apostles eleven 
In name of the Son of God torn of thee. 

In name of James, and Peter, and Paul, 
John the baptist, and John the apostle above, 
Luke the physician, and Stephen the martyr, 
Muriel the fair, and Mary mother of the I>amb. 

In name of Patrick holy of the deeds. 
And Carmac of the rights and tombs, 
Columba beloved, and Adamnan of laws, 
Fite calm, and Ikide of the milk and kine. 

In name of Michael chief of hosts. 
In name of Ariel youth of lovely hues, 
In name of Uriel of the golden locks, 
And Gabriel seer of the Virgin of grace. 

The time thou shalt have closed thine eye. 
Thou shalt not bend thy knee nor move, 
Thou shalt not wound the duck that is swimming. 
Never shalt thou harry her of her young. 



312 OIBRE 

Eala bhan a ghlugaid bhinn, 
Odhra sgaireach nan ciabh donn, 
Cha ghear thu it as an druim, 
Gu la-bhrath, air bharr nan tonn. 

Air an ite bitheadh iad a ghnath 

Mu 'n cuir thu lamhaidh ri do chluais, 

Is bheir Moire mhin-gheal dhut dha gradh, 

Is bheir Bride aluinn dhut dha buar. 

Chan ith thu farasg no blianach, 
No aon ian nach leag do lamh, 
Bi-sa taingeil leis an aon-fhear, 
Ge do robh a naodh air snamh. 

Eala shith Bhride nan ni, 
Lacha shith jMhoire na sith. 



LABOUR 313 

The white swan of the sweet gurgle, 

The speckled dun of the brown tuft, 

Thou shalt not cut a feather from their backs, 

Till the doom-day, on the crest of the wave. 

On the wing be they always 

Ere thou place missile to thine ear. 

And the fair Mary will give thee of her love. 

And the lovely Bride will give thee of her kine. 

Thou shalt not eat fallen fish nor fallen flesh. 
Nor one bird that thy hand shall not bring down. 
Be thou thankful for the one, 
Though nine should be swimming. 

The fairy swan of Bride of flocks, 
The fairy duck of Mary of peace. 



314 



OIBRE 



COISRIGEADH NA SEILG 



[115] 




This hymn was sung by the hunter when he went away in the 

N ainm na Trianailt, mar aon, 

Ann am briathar, an gniomh 's an smaon, 
Ta mi 'g ionn mo lamlia fein, 
Ann an sionn 's an sian nan speur. 

A dubhradh nach till mi ri m' bheo 
Gun iasgach, gun ianach ni 's mo, 
Gun seing, gun sithinn nuas a beinn, 
Gun sul, gun saill, a muigh a coill. 

O Mhoire mhaoth-gheal, chaomh-gheal, ghradh-gheal, 
Seachainn orm s' am bradan tarra-gheal marbh air sala, 
Lach le h-alach nam b'e b'aill leat, 
Nead ri beul an uisge far nach traigh e. 



An liath-chearc air bharr nan stuc, 

Is coileach-dubh an tuchain truim, 

An deigh laighe luth na greine, 

Seachainn, o seachainn orm fein an eisdeachd. 



O Mhoire, mhathair chubhr mo Righ, 
Crun-sa mi le crun do shith, 
Cuir do bhrat rioghach oir dha m' dhion. 
Is comhnuich mi le comhnadh Chriosd, 
Comhnuich mi le comhnadh Chriosd. 



LABOUR 315 



CONSECRATING THE CHASE 

morning, and when he had bathed his hands and face in the junction of the first 
three streams he met. 

In name of the Holy Three-fold as one, 

In word, in deed, and in thought, 

I am bathing mine own hands. 

In the light and in the elements of the sky. 

Vowing that I shall never return in my life. 
Without fishing, without fowling either. 
Without game, without venison down from the hill, 
Without fat, without blubber from out the copse. 

Mary tender-fair, gentle-fair, loving-fair. 
Avoid thou to me the silvery salmon dead on the salt sea, 
A duck with her brood an it please thee to show me, 
A nest by the edge of the water where it does not dry. 

The grey-hen on the crown of the knoll. 

The black-cock of the hoarse croon. 

After the strength of the sun has gone down, 

Avoid, oh, avoid thou to me the hearing of them. 

O Mary, fragrant mother of my King, 
Crown thou me with the crown of thy peace, 
Place thine own regal robe of gold to protect me. 
And save me with the saving of Christ, 
Save me with the saving of Christ. 



316 



OIBRE 



ORA TURAIS 



[116] 




This hymn was sung by a pilgrim in setting out on his 
pilgrimage. The family and friends joined the traveller 

ITH a bhi na tn' bhial, 

Bladh a bhi na m' chainn, 
Blath na siri na mo bhile, 
Gun an tis mi nail. 



An gaol thug losa Criosda 
Bhi lionadh gach cridhe domh, 
An gaol thug losa Criosda 
Da m' lionadh air an son. 



Siubhal choire, siubhal choille, 
Siubhal fraoine fada, fas, 
Moire mhin-gheal sior dha m" chobhair, 
Am Buachaill losa m' dhion 's a chas, 
Moire mhin-gheal sior dha m' chobhair, 
Am Buachaill losa m' dhion 's a chas. 



LABOUR 317 



PRAYER FOR TRAVELLING 

in singing the hymn and starting the journey, from which too frequently, for 
various causes, he never returned. 

Life be in my speech. 

Sense in what I say, 

The bloom of cherries on my lips, 

Till I come back again. 

The love Christ Jesus gave 
Be filling every heart for me. 
The love Christ Jesus gave 
Filling me for every one. 

Traversing corries, traversing forests, 
Traversing valleys long and wild. 
The fair white Mary still uphold me, 
The Shepherd Jesu be my shield, 
The fair white Mary still uphold me. 
The Shepherd Jesu be my shield. 



318 



OIBRE 



BEANNACHD lASGAICH 



[117] 



On Christmas Day the young men of the townland go out to fish. All the fish 
they catch are sacred to the widows and the orphans and to the poor, and are 
distributed among them according to their necessities. 

There is a tradition among the people of the Western Isles that Christ 
required Peter to row 707 strokes straight out from the shore when He com- 
manded him to go and procure the fish containing the tribute-money. Following 
this tradition, the old men of Uist require the young men to row 707 strokes 
from the land before casting their lines on Christmas Day. And whatever fish 
they get are cordially given to the needy as a tribute in the name of Christ, 
King of the sea, and of Peter, king of fishermen. This is called ' dioladh deirc,' 
tribute-paying, ' deirce Pheadair,' Peter's tribute, 'dioladh Pheadail,' Peter's 
payment, and other terms. This tribute-paying on Christmas Day excites much 
emotional interest, and all try to enhance the tribute and in various ways to 
render the alms as substantial as possible. 

The whiting and the haddock of the same size bear a strong resemblance to 
one another. There are differences, however. The haddock has a black spot 
on each side of its body above the pectoral fin, while the head of the whiting is 
more elongated than that of the haddock. Children and strangers are taught 
. to differentiate between the two thus : — 




' Ball dubh air an adaig. 
Gob fad air a chuideig.' 



A black spot of the haddock, 
A long snout on the whiting. 



A na soillse thainig oirnn, 
Rugadh Criosda leis an Oigh. 

'Na ainm-san cratham am burn 
Air gach cail a ta na m' churt. 

A Righ nam feart 's nan neart tha shuas, 
Do bheannachd iasgaich dort a nuas. 



Suidhim sios le ramh 'na m' ghlac, 
Imirim a seachd ceud 's a seachd. 



LABOUR 319 



FISHING BLESSING 

The people of Uist say that the haddock was the fish in whose mouth Peter 
found the tribute-money, and that the two black spots are the marks left by 
Peter's fingers when he held the fish to extract the money from its mouth. 
The crew of young men who get most haddocks on Christmas Day are looked 
upon during the year as the real followers of the king of fishers. There is, 
therefore, considerable emulation among the different crews. 

The haddock is called Masg Pheadail,' Peter's fish, and ' iasg Pheadair 
runaich,' the fish of loving Peter ; and a family of birds ' peadaireach, 
' peitirich ' — Peter-hke, petrels, because in their flight they seem to be walking 
on the sea. 

The tradition as to rowing 707 strokes is curious and interesting. The only 
other similar tradition which I know is of the wars between the Fomorians and 
the Milesians in Ireland. Both were invaders :— the Milesians earlier, the 
Fomorians later. When the Fomorians landed in Ireland the Milesians were 
already established, and the result was a long-continued war, till both sides 
were exhausted and tired of the strife. During a temporary truce it was agreed 
that the Fomorians should retire to the sea and row straight out 707 strokes 
from land, and if they succeeded in landing again they were to be allowed to 
remain and enjoy their hard-won honours. Whether for good or for ill to 
Ireland, the Fomorians effected a landing a second time, and settled in the 
south and west of the island. 

The Irish were Pagan at the time, and the tradition of the 707 strokes being 
imposed by Christ on Peter must have been inserted in the Fomorian tradition 
after Ireland became Christian. 

The day of light has come upon us, 
Christ is born of the Virgin. 

In His name I sprinkle the vi^ater 
Upon every thing within my court. 

Thou King of deeds and powers above, 
Thy fishing blessing pour down on us. 

I will sit nie down with an oar in my grasp, 

I will row me seven hundred and seven [strokes]. 



320 OIBRE 

Tilgidh mi mo dhubhan sios, 
'S an ciad iasg a bheir mi nios, 

An ainm Chriosda, Righ nan siau, 
Gheobh an deoir e mar a mhiann. 

Is righ nan iasgair, Peadair treun, 
Bheir e bheannachd dhomh na dheigh. 

Airil, Gabril, agus Eoin, 
Raphail baigheil, agus Pol, 

Calum-cille caomh 's gach cas, 
'S Muire mhin-gheal leis a ghras. 

Siubhlaibh leinn gu iola cuain, 
Ciuinibh dhuinne ban- nan stuagh. 

Righ nan righ ri crich ar cuart, 
Sineadh saoghail is sonais buan. 

Crun an Righ o'n Tri tha shuas, 
Crois Chriosda d'ar dion a nuas. 

Crun an Righ o'n Tri tha shuas, 
Crois Chriosda d'ar dion a nuas. 



LABOUR 321 

I will cast down my hook, 
The first fish which I bring up 

In the name of Christ, King of the elements, 
The poor shall have it at his wish. 

And the king of fishers, the brave Peter, 
He will after it give me his blessing. 

Ariel, Gabriel, and John, 
Raphael benign, and Paul, 

Columba, tender in every distress, 
And ]\Iary fair, the endowed of grace. 

Encompass ye us to the fishing-bank of ocean, 
And still ye to us the crest of the waves. 

Be the King of kings at the end of our course, 
Of lengthened life and of lasting happiness. 

lie the crown of the King from the Three on high, 
Be the cross of Christ adown to shield us. 

The crown of the King from the Three above, 
The cross of Christ adown to shield us. 



322 OIBRE 



BEANNACHADH CUAIN [us] 

Sea prayers and sea hymns were common amongst the seafarers of the Western 
Islands. Probably these originated with the early Celtic missionaries, who 
constantly traversed in their frail skin coracles the storm-swept, strongly tidal 
seas of those Hebrid Isles, oft and oft sealing their devotion with their hves. 

Before embarking on a journey the voyagers stood round their boat and 
prayed to the God of the elements for a peaceful voyage over the stormy sea. 
The steersman led the appeal, while the swish of the waves below, the sough of 
the sea beyond, and the sound of the wind around blended with the voices of 
the suppliants and lent dignity and solemnity to the scene. 

There are many small oratories roimd the West Coast where chiefs and 
clansmen were wont to pray before and after voyaging. An Interesting 
example of these is in the island of Grimisey, North Uist. The place is called 
CeaUan, cells, from 'ceaU,' a cell. There were two oratories within two 
hundred yards of one another. One of the two has wholly disappeared, the 
other nearly. The ruin stands on a ridge near the end of the island looking 
out on the open bay of CeaUan and over the stormy Minch to the distant 
mountains of Mull and Morven. The oratory is known as ' Teampull Mhicheil,' 
the temple of St Michael. The structure was simple but beautiful, while 
the remains are interesting and touching from their historical associations. 
Tradition says that the oratory was built by ' Eibhric '—Euphemia or Amie, 
sole daughter and heiress of Ruaraidh, the son of Alan, High Chief of Lorn. 

Amie, the daughter of Ruaraidh, married in 1337 John of Islay, Lord of 
the Isles. The two being related, they were granted a dispensation by Pope 
Benedict XII. The Lady Amie had three sons. 

About the year 1358 John of Islay discarded Amie, and married Margaret, 
daughter of Robert Steward, and granddaughter of Robert Bruce. When the 
Lord of the Isles came south to celebrate his marriage with the Lady Margaret, 
one hundred and eight ships full of kinsmen and clansmen, chiefs and chieftains, 
came in his train. Such a sight had never been seen in Scotland before, and 
people came to the Clyde from long distances to see this large fleet. The power 
and influence indicated by this enormous retinue created much comment and 
envy among the nobles of the south and even at the Court. 

The Lord of the Isles retained possession of the extensive territories of the 
Lady Amie, disposing of them afterwards to his several sons. 

The discarded lady took to a religious life, building and restoring oratories, 
churches, nunneries, monasteries, and castles throughout her ancestral lands. 
Saint Michael's Temple at CeaUan was one of these. In this little sanctuary 
built for the purpose the Lady Amie offered prayers and thanks before and 
after voyages to her kindred in Lorn. 

John, Lord of the Isles, was a man of much munificence, like aU those princely 
Macdonalds. He gave largely to the Church, earning for himself from the 



LABOUR 323 

priests of the period the name of ' The Good John of Islay.' He was buried in 
lona in the year 1386, in splendour and magnificence never surpassed, if ever 
equalled, in the case of the many kings of the five nationalities buried there. 

About two years after his father's death, Ranald, the eldest surviving son of 
the Lady Amie, handed over the lordship of the Isles to Donald, eldest son of 
the Lady Margaret, who after\vards fought the battle of Harlaw. The ceremony 
of installing a Lord of the Isles usually took place at Loch Finlaggan in Islay, 
the principal seat of the Macdonalds, where the ruins of their castle, chapel, and 
other buildings are still to be seen, as well as the stone with the footmarks cut 
in it upon which the chief stood when, before the ' gentlemen of the Islands ' 
and Highlands, he was proclaimed ' Macdonald ' and ' High-prince of the seed 
of Conn.' But it was at Kildonan in the island of Eigg that Ranald gave the 
sceptre into the hand of Donald, who thus became eighth Lord of the Isles. The 
account given of the ceremony by Hugh Macdonald, the Seanchie of Sleat, is 
interesting as representing the usual manner of installing a king, chief, or other 
dignitary among the Celts : — ' At this the Bishop of Argyll, the Bishop of the 
Isles, and seven priests were sometimes present, but a Bishop was always present, 
with the chieftains of all the principal families and a Ruler of the Isles. There 
was a square stone seven or eight feet long, and the tract of a man's foot cut 
thereon, upon which he stood, denoting that he should walk in the footsteps and 
uprightness of his predecessors, and that he was installed by right in his 
possessions. He was clothed in a white habit to show his innocence and integrity 
of heart, that he would be a light to his people and maintain the true religion. 
The white apparel did afterwards belong to the poet by right. Then he was to 
receive a white rod in his hand intimating that he had power to rule, not with 
tyranny and partiality, but with discretion and sincerity. Then he received his 
forefathers' sword, or some other sword, signifying that his duty was to protect 
and defend them from their enemies in peace or war, as the obligations and 
customs of his predecessors were. The ceremony being over, mass was said 
after the blessing of the Bishop and seven priests, the people pouring their prayers 
for the success and prosperity of their new-created lord. When they were 
dismissed, the Lord of the Isles feasted them for a week thereafter, and gave 
liberally to the monks, poets, bards, and musicians. You may judge that they 
spent liberally without any exception of persons.' Other accounts differ but 
slightly from the above, as when Martin says that ' the young chief stood upon 
a cairn of stones, while his followers stood round him in a circle, his elevation 
signifying his authority over them, and their standing below their subjection to 
him, also that immediately after the proclamation the chief druid or bard per- 
formed a rhetorical panegyric setting forth the ancient pedigree, valour, and 
liberality of the family as incentives to the young chieftain and fit for his 
imitation.' Martin speaks of this ceremony of installing a chief as prevalent in 
the eighteenth century. 



[pp. 324-5 



324 



OIBRE 




EEANNACHADH CUAIN 

'' ill tha choiiiliiiadli nan arcl, 

Tiuirich duinn do bheannachd aij^h, 
lomchair leiiiii air bharr an t-sal, 
lomchair sinn gu cala tamh, 
iJeannaich ar sgioba agus bat, 
Beannaich gach acair agus ramh, 
Gach stadli is tarruiiin agus rac, 

Ar siuil-mhora ri craiiin ard 

Cum a Righ nan dul 'n an ait 

Run 's gu 'n till sinn dachaidh slan ; 

Suidhidh mi fein air an stiuir. 

Is e Mac De a bheir domh iuil, 

Mar a thug e Chalum ciuin, 

'N am dha stadh a chur ri siuil. 



Mhuire, Bhride, Mhicheil, Phail, 
Pheadair, Ghabriel, Eoin a ghraidh, 
Doirtibh oirnn an driuchd o'li aird, 
Bheireadh oirnn 's a chreideamh fas, 
Daingnibh sinn 's a Charraig Ail, 
Anns gach reachd a dhealbhas gradh, 
Run 's gu 'n ruig sinn tir an aigh, 
Am bi sith is scire is baigh 
Air an nochdadh duinn tre ghras ; 
Chaoidh chan fhaigh a chnoimh 'n ar dail, 
Bithidh sinn tearuint ann gu brath, 
Cha bhi sinn an geiiiihlibh bais, 
Ge do tha sinn do shiol Adh. 



LABOUR 325 



THE OCEAN BLESSING 

Thou who pervadest the heights, 
Imprint on us Thy gracious blessing, 
Carry us over the surface of the sea. 
Carry us safely to a haven of peace. 
Bless our boatmen and our boat. 
Bless our anchors and our oars. 
Each stay and halyard and traveller. 
Our mainsails to our tall masts 

Keep, O King of the elements, in their place 
That we may return home in peace ; 

1 myself will sit down at the helm. 

It is God's own Son who will give me guidance. 
As He gave to Columba the mild 
What time he set stay to sails. 

Mary, Bride, Michael, Paul, 
Peter, Gabriel, John of love. 
Pour ye down from above the dew 
That would make our fiiith to grow. 
Establish ye us in the Rock of rocks. 
In every law that love exhibits, 
That we may reach the land of glory, 
Where peace and love and mercy reign. 
All vouchsafed to us through grace ; 
Never shall the canker worm get near us. 
We shall there be safe for ever. 
We shall not be in the bonds of death 
Though we are of the seed of Adam. 

X 2 



326 OIBRE 



La Fheill Micheil, La Fheill Mairt, 
La Fheill Andrais, baiin na baigh, 
La Fheill Bride, la mo luaidh, 
Tilg an nimhir sios an chuan, 
Feuch an dean e sliigadh suas ; 
La Fheill Paruig, la nam buadh, 
Sorchair oirnn an stoirni o thuath, 
Casg a fraoch, niaol a gruam, 
Diochd a gairge, marbh a fuachd. 

La nan Tri Righrean shuas, 
Ciuinich dhuinne barr nan stuadh. 
La Bealltain thoir an driuchd. 
La Fheill Sheathain thoir an ciuin, 
La Fheill Moire mor nan cliar, 
Seachainn oirnn an stoirni o 'n iar, 
Gach la 's oidhche, gach stoirni is fiamh, 
Bi thusa leinn, a Thriath nan triath, 
Bi fein duinn ad chairt-iuil, 
Biodh do lamh air f'ailm ar stiuir. 
Do lamh fein, a Dhe nan dul, 
Moch is anamoch mar is iul, 

Moch is anamoch mar is iul. 



LABOUR 327 

On the Feast Day of Michael, the Feast Day of Martin, 

The Feast Day of Andrew, band of mercy. 

The Feast Day of Bride, day of my choice. 

Cast ye the serpent into the ocean. 

So that the sea may swallow her up ; 

On the Feast Day of Patrick, day of power, 

Reveal to us the storm from the north. 

Quell its wrath and blunt its fury, 

Lessen its fierceness, kill its cold. 

On the Day of the Three Kings on high. 
Subdue to us the crest of the waves. 
On Beltane Day give us the dew, 
On John's Day the gentle wind. 
The Day of Maiy the great of fame. 
Ward off us the storm from the west ; 
Each day and night, storm and calm, 
Be Thou with us, O Chief of chiefs. 
Be Thou Thyself to us a compass-chart. 
Be Thine hand on the helm of our rudder. 
Thine own hand. Thou God of the elements, 
Early and late as is becoming, 

Early and late as is becoming. 



828 



OIBRE 



BEANNACHADH CUAIN 



[119] 




HE, Athair uile-chumhachdaich, chaoimh, 
los a Mhic nan deur agus na caoidh, 
Le d' chomh-chomhnadh, O ! a Spioraid Naoinih. 

Thrithinn bhi-bhco, bhi-mhoir, bhi-bliuain, 

Thug Clann Israil tri na ]\Iuir Ruaidh, 

Is lonah gu fonn a bronn niiol-mhor a chuain, 

Thug Pol agus a chomhlain 's an long, 
A doruinn na mara, a dolais nan tonn, 
A stoirm a bha mor, a doinne bha trom. 



Duair bhruchd an toil air Muir Ghailili, 



Seun agus saor agus naomhaich sinne, 

Bi-sa, Righ nan dul, air ar stiuir ad shuidhc, 

'S treoirich an sith sinn gu ceann-crich ar n-uidhc. 

Le gaotha caona, caomha, coistre, cubhr, 

Gun fhaobhadh, gun fhionnsadh, gun fhabhsadh, 

Nach deanadh gniamh fabhtach dhuinn. 



larramaid gach sian a Dhe, 

A reir do rian 's do bhriathra fein. 



LABOUR 329 



OCEAN BLESSING 

(tOD the Father all-powerful, bunii^ii, 
Jesu the Son of tears and of sorrow, 
With thy co-assistance, O ! Holy Spirit. 

The Three-One, ever-living, ever-mighty, everlasting. 

Who brought the Children of Israel through the Red Sea, 

And Jonah to land from the belly of the great creature of the ocean. 

Who brought Paul and his companions in the ship. 

From the torment of the sea, from the dolour of the waves, 

From the gale that was great, from the storm that was heavy. 

When the storm poured on the Sea of Galilee, 



Sain us and shield and sanctify us. 

Be Thou, King of the elements, seated at our helm. 

And lead us in peace to the end of our journey. 

With winds mild, kindly, benign, pleasant, 
Without swirl, without whirl, without eddy. 
That would do no harmful deed to us. 

We ask all things of Thee, O God, 
According to Thine own will and word. 



330 



OIBRE 




IIIAGHLAIR NAN SIAN 



[120] 



y LANN Israil is Dica da 'n gabhail, 
'^1 Troimh 'n Mhuir Ruaidh fhuair iad rathad, 
Is ann a fhuair iad casg am paihaidh, 

An creag nach d' f haodadh le saor a shnaidheadh. 

Co iad air falm mo stiuir 

Deanamh falbli da m' iubliraicli shoir? 
Peadail, Pal, is Eoin mo ruin, 

Triuir da ''n talmaich fiu is foir. 



Co 'n croil an coir mo stiuir ? 

Peadail, Poil, is Eoin Baistidh, 
Criosda na shuidh air mo stiuir, 

Deanamh iuil da 'n ghaoith a deas. 



Co da 'n criothnaich guth na gaoith ? 
Co da 'n caonaich caol is cuan ? 

losa Criosda, Triath gach naoimh, 
Mac Moire, Friamh nam buadh, 
Mac Moire, Friamh nam buadh. 



LABOUR 331 



RULER OF THE ELEMENTS 

The Children of Israel, God taking them, 
Through the Red Sea obtained a path. 

They obtained the quenching of their thirst 

From a rock that might not by craftsman be hewn. 

Who are they on the tiller of my rudder. 
Giving speed to my east bound barge ? 

Peter and Paul and John the beloved. 

Three to whom laud and obeisance are due. 

Who are the group near to mv helm ? 

Peter and Paul and John the Baptist ; 
Christ is sitting on my helm, 



To whom does tremble the voice of the wind.? 

To whom become tranquil strait and ocean ? 
To Jesus Christ, Chief of each saint, 

Son of Mary, Root of victory. 

Son of Mary, Root of victory. 



332 



OIBRE 



URNUIGH MHARA 

Stiuradair Ueannaicht an long. 

Sgioba Beannaicheadh Dia an t-Athair i. 

Stiuradair Beannaicht an long. 

Sgioba Beannaicheadh Dia am Mac i. 

Stiuradair Beannaicht an long. 

Sgioba Beannaicheadh Dia an Spiorad i. 

UiLE Dia an t-Athair, 

Dia am Mac, 
Dia an Spiorad, 

Beannaicheadh an long. 

Stiuradair Ciod is eagal duibh 

Is Dia an t-Athair leibh ? 

Sgioba Cha 'n eagal duinn ni. 

Stiuradair Ciod is eagal duibh 

Is Dia am Mac leibh .'' 

Sgioba Cha 'n eagal duinn ni. 

Stiuradair Ciod is eagal duibh 

Is Dia an Spiorad leibh ? 

Sgioba Cha \\ eagal duinn ni. 

UiLE Dia an t-Athair, 

Dia am Mac, 
Dia an Spiorad, 
Leinn gu sior. 



[121] 



LABOUR 



333 



Helmsman 

Crkw 

ITklmsman 

CliKW 

Helmsman 

CuEW 

Alt, 



Helmsman 



Crew 

Helmsman 



Crew 
Helmsman 



Chew 
All 



SEA PRAYER 

Blest be the boat. 

God the Father bless licr. 
Blest be the boat. 

God the Son bless her. 
Blest be the boat. 

God the Spirit bless her. 

God the Father, 
God the Son, 
God the Spirit, 

Bless the boat. 

What can befall you 

And God the Feather with you ? 

No harm can befall us. 

What can befall you 

And God the Son with you.'' 

No harm can befall us. 

What can befall you 

And God the Spirit with you .'' 

No harm can befall us. 

God the Father, 
God the Son, 
God the Spirit, 

With us eternally. 



334 OIBRE 

Stiueadair Ciod is fath bhur curam 

Is Ti nan dul os bhur cinn ? 

Sgioba Cha churam dhuinn ni. 

Stiuradair Ciod is fath bhur curam 

Is Righ nan dul os bhur cinn ? 

Sgioba Cha churam dhuinn ni. 

Stiuradaiu Ciod is fath bhur curam 

Is Spiorad nan dul os bhur cinn ? 

Sgioba Cha churam dhuinn ni. 

UiLE Ti nan dul, 

Righ nan dul, 
Spiorad nan dul, 
Dluth OS ar cinn, 
Suthainn sior. 



LABOUR 



335 



Helmsman What can cause you anxiety 

And the God of the elements over you ? 

Crew No anxiety can be ours. 

Helmsman What can cause you anxiety 

And the King of the elements over you ? 

Crew No anxiety can be ours. 

Helmsman What can cause you anxiety 

And the Spirit of the elements over you ? 

Crew No anxiety can be ours. 

All The God of the elements. 

The King of the elements, 
The Spirit of the elements, 
Close over us, 

Ever eternally.